Unite hails landmark ‘licence for London’ covering the...

Unite hails landmark ‘licence for London’ covering the capital’s 25,000 bus drivers

17 January 2018

Unite, the union representing London’s bus workers, hailed today’s (Wednesday 17 January) launch of a ‘licence for London’ covering the capital’s 25,000 bus workers as a win-win for passengers and bus drivers.

The new ‘licence for London’ puts an end to the previous system where bus drivers moving from one bus company to another would be paid the lowest driving wage as if they were starting their careers, even though they might have driven for many years with another company. From now on drivers can start at a new company at a pay grade equivalent to their level of service and experience. 

The landmark deal has been brokered by Unite, the mayor of London, Transport for London (TfL), and the private bus companies who operate bus services in the capital on TfL’s behalf. 

Drivers will now take with them their qualifications and driving record in the form of an enhanced reference for their new employers. All of London’s bus operators have signed up to the licence for London and have committed to apply it.  

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, joined Unite members and Sadiq Khan mayor of London earlier today to launch the new licence which was the result of a long running Unite campaign.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “London’s bus workers do a stressful job keeping the capital on the move, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They are the lifeblood of London and, thanks to the hard work of Unite and everyone involved, will have their professionalism and experience recognised by the new London Licence.

“No longer will London’s bus workers have to take a pay cut if they move operator and go to the bottom rung of the ladder. Before now if a driver with 10 to 15 years’ experience moved jobs they could end up being paid the same as someone new to industry who had never driven a bus before.

“The London Licence ends this unfair farce and introduces minimum standards that will retain knowledge and expertise on London’s roads. It will benefit passengers and workers and is a win-win for London, showing what can be achieved when employers, politicians and trade unions work constructively together.”  

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London’s bus drivers do a crucial job, ensuring Londoners can get around our city quickly and safety at all times of day and night. 

“I’m determined to ensure all of London’s bus drivers are treated fairly as professionals, and I’m delighted we’re now addressing a situation where a driver with the same level of knowledge, skill and experience could get paid significantly less, simply for working on a different route or moving company.   

“Today’s announcement shows the real progress you can make when you talk and engage constructively with workers and trade unions, rather than looking for confrontation. It is this same approach that has led to a nearly 65 per cent reduction in the number of days lost to strikes on the London Underground compared to my predecessor as mayor.

"I will continue to work closely to ensure the thousands of public servants who work on London’s transport network get the fair deal they deserve.” 

TfL’s director of bus operations Claire Mann, added: “This is a good deal for London’s 25,000 drivers and we’re delighted to have been able to work with Unite and all the bus companies to agree it.  

"Bus drivers are very often the unsung heroes of London’s transport network, and we can forget they deal with tough situations in tough conditions in a very busy city, day in, day out. Good bus services, with fairly treated staff, play a key role in encouraging more people to switch from their cars to public transport, which is good for the whole city.”


For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869. 

Notes to editors:

  • 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.