East London was hit by a fresh wave of bus strikes at the weekend.
Drivers from the East London Bus Company called a 48-hour strike at 3am on 20 November – the second in two weeks. It affected bus routes in Barking, Bow, Leyton, Romford, Upton Park and West Ham.
Members of Unite – the bus drivers’ union – called this second wave of strike action due to a dispute over pay between drivers of the East London Bus Group and Quarry Bank, an Australian investment bank that owns the bus company.
According to Allen Staines, a representative for bus drivers from the Bow garage, executives from the East London Bus Group placed an improved contract of 0.05 per cent on the table following the first strike.
He said: “This works out to roughly £2.30, so obviously we said no to that.
“Our managing director is only a mouthpiece for Quarry Bank. He can’t do anything until he gets the nod from them. At the moment, all he’s come back with is 0.05 per cent, so we’ve turned round and said no. The ball is in their court now and we’re just waiting for them to come back to us.”
Steve Hart, from the Unite union, called on London Mayor Boris Johnson to intervene and apply pressure to ensure bus drivers receive adequate pay.
“The danger is that with Boris’ cuts we could return to the days of post-privatisation in the early 90s,” he said. “Previously, we would see the Mayor himself getting involved, putting on serious pressure. But so far, we’ve seen nothing.”
He also refused to rule out further strike action if negotiations continued to stall. “There has been no advance since the last strike. It’s a pay freeze. We’re not after anything dramatic, and we’re prepared to negotiate.”
Hackney CT Plus transport is due to strike this Friday, and Mr Hart warned that further action will be necessary if the situation does not improve.