Bus drivers wildcat against 'spy' CCTV

Bus drivers in North West London took wildcat action last week and refused to leave their garage in protest against management bullying and 'spy' cameras in their cabs.

Rob Bleaney and Andrew Brightwell reported on hamhigh.co.uk:

Furious bus drivers walked out this week after bosses put spy cameras into their cabs.

Passengers waiting for buses on the 31 route to Camden and the 328 route to Golders Green were left stranded on Tuesday morning as drivers refused to leave their bus garage until 8.30am.

Commuters using the buses, which go from the Westbourne Park garage, faced nightmare journeys to work because of the dispute over the big brother-style cameras.

A spokesman for the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU), whose members were involved in the strike, said a number of disciplinary issues, as well as the cameras, had contributed to the walkout.

He said: "There's no problem with CCTV on buses in principle. We welcome it because it gives extra protection to the drivers, it helps the police solve crimes and it makes the travelling public feel safer.

"But drivers are unhappy that a new lens is focused just on their cab and seems to have no reason to be there other than to spy on them.

"The fact that bus operator First had refused to engage with the drivers on this issue over the last few weeks led to anger and frustration and caused Tuesday's unofficial and spontaneous strike.

"The union's role was to get people back to work and we have made sure that the issues which led to the strike are now being properly addressed by the company."

A driver on the 31 route, which runs from Camden Town to Westbourne Park, said a series of issues led to the walkout.

"One person had a medical condition and was dismissed, even though he had a doctor's certificate. Another was suspended because he was reported by a member of the public, even though the report wasn't supported.

"Another person was being paid sick pay when they had been assaulted and therefore should have been receiving accident pay, which is higher.

"There is also concern among drivers that they are being bullied by management over various issues."

First's managing director for London and Berkshire, Tony Wilson, said the document they were handed by strikers concerned disciplinary issues and insisted First does not monitor CCTV for any issue other than protection of passengers and drivers.

He said: "Whilst we understand that constant monitoring of what goes on inside a bus can be an emotive issue, our policy has always been only to view such images in the case of public complaint, personal injury to passengers, assault or road traffic accident."