Leon Daniels needs to listen to the facts

In an open letter to passengers, Leon Daniels TfL’s managing director for surface transport, makes a number of misleading comments which Unite would like to correct.  The London bus dispute is with London’s 18 bus operators not TfL and has only become ‘necessary’ because of the operator’s refusal over the last two years to sit down collectively to discuss ending the pay inequality on London’s buses.

Driving up pay for London's bus workers 1

The claim:  Mr Daniels says drivers have regularly received pay rises above the rate of inflation.

The reality:  Recent years have seen pay freezes and the introduction of ever lower rates of pay for new starters. The merry go round of transferred drivers as routes transfer between companies and garages has also impacted on the pay of countless drivers.

The claim:  Mr Daniels says bus companies pay a range of rates to reflect length of service and differing levels of knowledge and experience.

The reality:  Unite is willing to negotiate reasonable pay banding that would recognise length of service, but the sad fact is Mr Daniels is wrong. The reality is that caps on new starter pay rates mean drivers never reach the top rate of pay in some bus companies or take years to do so.

The claim:  Mr Daniels says some drivers drive large double decker buses while others drive smaller single deck buses requiring a different set of skills and that this reflected in pay.

The reality:  This is quite simply a not true. There are no double decker/single decker pay rates. Drivers will often drive a single decker one day and a double decker the next.

The claim:  Mr Daniels says each bus operator has offered to meet Unite individually to resolve the dispute.

The reality:  This is misleading. The only way pay disparities of £3 an hour and the myriad of different terms and conditions can be tackled is collectively. As Mr Daniels is aware all we are asking for is a collective forum to discuss how we can end pay disparities over a sensible timeframe. The bus operators have refused to talk collectively which is why bus drivers are taking strike action.

The claim:  Mr Daniels claims that such a meeting would be illegal.

The reality:  This is false and Mr Daniels knows this to be the case. The UK is still a free a country and we are willing to give whatever legal assurances we can to the bus operators that such a meeting wouldn’t be deemed anti-competitive.

The claim:  Mr Daniels claims that ending pay inequality on the London’s buses would result in higher fares and cuts to services.

The reality:  Bus fares have risen by two thirds since 2008 while bus driver wages have fallen in real terms. The combined profits of London’s bus operators topped £171.7 million according to latest figures.

  • Unite recognises that ending pay inequality and moving to a common pay structure for London’s bus workers will take time. That’s why Unite wants to sit down and talk collectively with the capital’s bus companies and work out a sensible timeframe. Fine out more on the London busworkers campaign.