Bus workers in Hackney are striking for a second day at the Ashgrove bus depot in a dispute over low pay.
Unite members took the 24-hour strike action today for the second Friday in a row. The original action began after negotiations over a 2 per cent pay increase broke down between workers and bosses at CT Plus, part of the HCT group.
Two further 24 hour strikes are planned over the next two Fridays.
Despite the strike action, bus services from the Ashgrove depot have not been seriously disrupted, with five out of six routes operating a full service. Route 388 has been disrupted slightly, terminating at Liverpool Street instead of Embankment.
In a statement today, HCT said:
“We are delighted that the overwhelming majority of our workforce has chosen to ignore the call to strike for the second week in a row. This has enabled us to operate most services. We do, however, regret the disruption to route 388.
“Most of our employees do not want to strike as can be seen from the turnout today, and last Friday. We are deeply saddened by the approach taken by Unite, who appear to relish industrial confrontation for broader political purposes.”
Hayley Brent-Isherwood, a spokesperson for HCT told East London Lines today there were about a dozen workers observing the strike action.
Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional official, said: “In terms of numbers on strike today the bus drivers start their shifts at 4 am and the last sign on is 5 or 6 in the evening. So we won’t know the full figures yet. We’ve made it quite clear that there has not been a 100% support for the strike, we’re not pretending there is – we didn’t last week.
“Last week the company was putting out in its press release that 20 people came out on the strike but we actually paid strike payouts to 73 people that we know of so far. So there’s all sorts of games going on about the figures.
“We are certainly aware that buses are running. The reason for that are many fold. One of them is that instead of sitting down and negotiating in a serious manner with the union, they’ve offered drivers £30 extra a day to break their own strike, with a £150 bonus if they break the strike on four days. This actually amounts to £270.”
Unite believes this amount could have gone towards settling the initial pay dispute instead and are calling for CT Plus to negotiate with the union:
Mr Kavanagh added:
“We are still saying to the company these are the lowest paid bus workers in London. They consistently come top in the league tables for performance yet they are some of the lowest paid in London and it’s about time they sat down and negotiated with the union and found a sensible settlement.”
CT Plus bus drivers currently earn £11.78 per hour. CT Plus say that the offered 2% increase in pay along with other improvements to terms and conditions equates with those offered by other bus operators across London.