Thousands of trainee bus drivers in London have been ‘short changed’ by the majority of bus companies not paying the agreed London living wage, Unite, the country’s largest union, has said.
The union said it had evidence that bus companies were deliberately not paying the London living wage of £9.75 an hour for those trainees holding the Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) licence.
Unite also claimed that some were not even paying the national minimum wage of £7.50 an hour to those trainees not holding a PCV licence.
Following the presentation of Unite’s evidence, Transport for London (TfL) has now written to the 18 bus operators in the capital reinforcing the expectation outlined in the framework agreement which stipulates that the London living wage must be paid to anyone employed to deliver London’s bus service, and this includes trainee drivers.
But the issue for Unite is how many trainee drivers have lost wages; how long has an individual bus operator being underpaying them, and how the drivers are to receive the financial recompense they are now due.
Unite welcomed today’s (Thursday 13 April) intervention by London mayor Sadiq Khan who has taken up the union’s campaign.
Unite regional co-ordinating officer Wayne King said: “We have evidence and feedback from our shop stewards that reveals the majority of the bus companies in London have not been paying their trainee drivers the London living wage, whether they have a PCV licence or not.
“We welcome the move by TfL in writing this week to the bus companies to remind them of their obligations under the long-established framework agreement to pay the London living wage – it is a disgrace they have not been doing so.
“Although TfL has reacted quickly to stop this abuse, we have to ask how it allowed it to happen in the first place.
“In December, we announced the introduction of a Unite negotiated London wide new starter pay rate of £23,000, a ground breaking agreement between Unite, TfL, the bus operators and the mayor’s office. Four months later we discover wholesale abuse of the London living wage by the vast majority of the capital’s bus companies.
“We have uncovered examples of trainee drivers working a 40 hour week and only being paid £300 per week for anything up to six weeks while in training. In the 21st century, in one of the wealthiest cities in the world, that’s shameful.
“The issue for us now is how many have been underpaid in the past and for long how?
“We also want to investigate the mechanism as to how our members who have been underpaid will be compensated by the firms which have played ‘fast and loose’ with the framework agreement.
“As the son of a London bus driver, we are glad London mayor Sadiq Khan is as angry as us about the way the system has been manipulated and look forward to working with him to resolve this sorry situation.”
There are 25,000 bus drivers working in London.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey