Frustration with a pay offer from London bus operator Metroline which is below the norm for the capital will mean the first bus strike in London for seven years when 2,500 drivers and engineers walk out tomorrow (Tuesday 14th November).
The Transport and General Workers Union today confirmed that last minute talks with Metroline bosses had failed to put more money on the table so the action affecting routes between north and central London will go ahead.
"We have done our best to resolve our differences through negotiation but at the end of the day the company was unwilling to put more money on the table," said Jim Buckley, T&G regional industrial organiser.
An initial offer of three per cent was increased through the negotiations to four per cent but the union said this was rejected because it did not meet the drivers' and engineers' claim for a basic £11 an hour from the current £10.43. The T&G said with pay deals coming in elsewhere across London at six per cent the company could and should think again.
The Metroline workers typically earn around £22,000 which includes any overtime and extra payments for shift patterns. The T&G said this remained a low wage compared to the bus drivers' responsibilities and it was well below comparable figures for the Tube and train drivers. Union leaders also stressed it is well below the estimated £40,000 which housing experts say is needed to get on the lowest rung of the London property ladder
Last minute talks between the T&G and Metroline this morning failed to close the pay gap in spite of the union's best endeavours so the action will go ahead. Further one day strikes are anticipated on the 20th and 27th November if the dispute is not resolved.
The action will cover Metroline operations out of Potters Bar, Holloway, Kings Cross, Perivale, Edgware, Cricklewood, Wembley and Willesden. The main routes that are expected to be hit include the 134, 139, 24, 263, 82 and 113 as well as many night bus routes to North London out of Trafalgar Square.
Notes: the strike affects both drivers and engineers. The drivers strike will start at 4.00m and the engineers will start at 6.00am. Both strikes will last for 24 hours.