Christmas bus strikes extended following 'insulting' offer

London red bus operator Arriva is to be bought by US firm I Squared (Mayor of London/PA) (PA Media)
London red bus operator Arriva is to be bought by US firm I Squared (Mayor of London/PA) (PA Media)

Bus drivers in West London have extended their strike action over the Christmas period following an “insulting” offer from a bus operator.

Some 350 drivers and engineers will now walk out for an extra day on December 21 as well as previously planned strike days on December 22 and 23, the Unite union has said.

The workers are based at the Westbourne Park Garage and the strikes will impact the 13, 23, 28, 218, 295, 414, 452 and N28 routes.

Unite warned industrial action will intensify if the dispute with RATP-owned London Transit is not resolved.

Drivers are taking strike action after rejecting a 6.8 per cent pay offer, labelling it a “significant real terms pay cut”.

Unite said the dispute is also about the company attempting to reduce "terms and conditions, including removing a longstanding £500 meal relief payment and attacking arrangements for a how workers take days off in lieu".

The union said the latest offer only included extremely “minor changes” and it did not include an increase in hourly pay.

Unite members are also frustrated that it takes seven years to reach the full rate of pay at the company, while at other bus companies it can be reached in three years.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “RATP is a huge multinational firm and can afford to put forward a fair pay rise and drop its attack on these workers’ terms and conditions.

Instead, it is making this dispute worse by insulting the workforce with completely unacceptable offers. Unite will not stand for attacks on our members jobs, pay or conditions and the workers at London Transit have the total support of their union.”A RATP spokesperson said: “We are disappointed at the decision to proceed with industrial action. Strikes cause inconvenience to the public and further loss of earnings for our hard-working employees.

"We have made a competitive and fair offer, worth 8.3% in total, aligned to our commitment to protect drivers and engineers from inflation and reward their efforts. We have also reviewed the Union’s demands with regard to terms and conditions and have put forward proposals we believe should be satisfactory to all parties.

"While union representatives declined our most recent invitation to continue discussions on this year’s pay round, we remain ready to engage at any point. We very much hope that they will meet us and that further strikes can be averted.”