Britain’s largest union, Unite today (Wednesday 21 December) welcomed the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s first step towards fulfilling his election manifesto promise to provide a new fairer deal for the capital’s 25,000 bus drivers.
Unite heralded the ‘ground breaking’ package which follows a long running campaign by London’s bus workers to establish a new minimum drivers’ wage to halt the ‘race to the bottom’ on the capital’s buses. The campaign saw bus workers take industrial action in 2015.
The package is a culmination of talks between Unite, Transport for London, London’s bus operators and the Mayor of London. It also includes pay security for drivers moving between London’s bus operators in addition to an equality programme ensuring the diversity of the capital is reflected in all management grades of London’s bus companies.
Commenting Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “This is great news for the workers and passengers of London.
“The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has honoured his commitment to introduce fair pay on London’s buses and halt the race to the bottom, in stark contrast to his predecessor who unfortunately refused to see the merits of working positively with the trade unions.
“It is also a huge testament to the tireless campaigning by Unite members. In garages right across the capital they were resolved and determined to win the fairness and stability they deserve. Their collective determination has won the day and delivered results.
“For too long drivers with similar experience, often driving the same roads, but for different bus operators have had to endure huge variations in pay and conditions.
“Now thanks to the hard work of Unite, Transport for London and the Mayor of London, drivers of the capital’s iconic red buses can look forward to an important first step on the road to ending pay inequality and introducing a single London wide pay structure.
“Combined with a Unite led equality programme, helping ensure the diversity of our capital is reflected in all management grades of London’s bus operators, this ground breaking package will also see the introduction of ‘Licence for London’.
“This vitally important step initiated by Unite, will enable bus drivers to move between London’s bus operators while ensuring their new rate of pay reflects their knowledge and ability, helping drive up standards by retaining skills and experience across London’s bus network.
"It is a win-win deal that shows what can be achieved when employers and progressive politicians work well with trade unions to support positive industrial relations.”
The proposals in detail include:
• A new 'minimum professional London bus driver wage' will be introduced to apply to all new TfL contracts awarded to bus companies from April next year.
• Bus companies will be required to pay drivers at least £23,000 per annum reflecting the challenging nature of the bus driver role, which now includes a greater focus on customer service. TfL will apply this from all new contracts awarded from 1 April 2017 next year, and rising with inflation thereafter.
• A ‘Licence for London’ will be introduced no later than April, allowing drivers to move between companies, taking with them their qualifications and driving record, without having to go on a lower new starter rate. This will form an enhanced reference for their new employers and enable employers to bring drivers into relevant local pay structures reflecting their experience.
• The Mayor also expects TFL, Unite representatives, and the operators to continue working towards introducing a London-wide pay structure for minimum levels of pay based on three and plus five years’ experience. Because of the wide range of pay levels and arrangements across London this will take longer to implement.
• TfL will also work with Unite representatives and the bus companies to better support the progression of London’s bus drivers through to management and other industry positions, including addressing historic under-representation of minority groups. TfL will work with Unite representatives and the operators to develop an equality and diversity programme to build a working environment that fully represents the diversity of London bus workers at every level in every company.
• There will also be continued work to address a range of other issues such as inadequate provision of toilet facilities and regular late finishes to shifts.
For further information please call Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 07967 665 869.
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.