London bus operator Metroline’s decision not to permanently drop its controversial ‘remote sign-on’ policy will lead to five days of strike action that will cause serious disruption to services in the north and west of the capital.

Unite the union announced today (Wednesday 12 May) 48 hours of strike action by more than 4,000 bus drivers on Tuesday 25 May and Wednesday 26 May, to be followed by a 72 hour strike on Monday 7 June, Tuesday 8 June and Wednesday 9 June.

Unite gave Metroline bosses nearly three weeks’ warning to drop its policy because of health & safety concerns regarding its members and the travelling public - or face industrial action.

Unite regional officer Mary Summers said: “Unite wrote to Metroline’s managing director Stephen Harris last month to give a generous and reasonable timeframe for the company to reconsider its position prior to the union issuing notice for industrial action.

“However, we warned Metroline that if we didn’t hear from the company by 10 May that it was jettisoning this misguided policy, we would be announcing strikes dates which we have now done.

“We are sorry for the disruption to the travelling public that the 48 hour and 72 hour strikes will cause, however, we firmly believe that the health & safety of our members must be our paramount consideration.”

London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has instructed the bosses at Transport for London (TfL) to introduce an immediate moratorium, which will not be lifted until detailed research into ‘remote sign on’ is completed. Metroline has stated it is only pausing the introduction of ‘remote sign-on’.

Mary Summers added: “Unite’s door is open for a constructive dialogue with Metroline to resolve this dispute before strike action begins – we urge them to take up that opportunity.”

‘Remote sign-on’ means drivers do not report to a depot, but meet their bus at an alternative location, such as a bus stop. It forces drivers to start work away from the depot, reducing costs and boosting the company's profits. The policy raises concerns over lack of toilets and canteens; increased driving hours; and waiting for the bus in unpredictable weather.

Unite has also said there is no benefit to passengers as ‘remote sign-on’ could well cause disruption to services used by the hundreds of thousands of people who use buses every day to get to work and school.

A total of 96 per cent of Metroline West and 97 per cent of Metroline Travel members have voted for strike action on Metroline routes. The company employs about 16 per cent of all bus drivers in the capital.


Notes to editors:

The Metroline Travel garages that will be hit are: Brentford, Edgware, Cricklewood, Holloway, Kings Cross, Lampton, Harrow Weald, Perivale, Potters Bar, West Perivale and Willesden. 

The Metroline West garages affected are: Alperton, Greenford, Uxbridge, Wallingford and Willesden.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.