Updates from the front line

“From a steward at first/centrewest”

It was only when the strike date was imminent, that the bosses and the mayor actually acknowledged our claim properly. They agreed to meet us, but turned up and offered us around 2/3 of what we were asking for. After months of ignoring the bus workers, the employers made an insulting offer (less than half of the offer for the underground). What is worst, while they made this offer they were focusing on the courts and hoping the strike would be stopped by the injunctions.

Late on Thursday evening, the news stations were reporting “the strike is off”. Because of the amount of time and effort put into the union’s communication network, we were able to correct this misinformation and keep the members updated. At this point the bosses had lost any chance of stopping the strikes, in all but 3 companies. As a result,Londonbusworkers gave the biggest show of strength in 30 years.

On the 22nd of July 2012,London busworkers took a stand. All across the capital, the host city for the Olympics, we stopped work. Not because we wanted the day off, but because we are fed up of being the poor relatives ofLondon’s transport family. While every body else is being offered bonuses (no need to ask), we were forced to go cap in hand. We made a modest request which was considerably less than a lot of other transport workers, and we were ignored.

Last week our bosses got the shock of their life! After a week of telling us how we would be the only ones on strike, because they had heard “most of our drivers and those in arriva south would cross the picket line”. He clearly didn’t know how strongly the members feel about this issue, and how fed up they are with the companies bullish attitude!

We saw the difference we make on the 22nd, and how much more difficult it was to get aroundLondon without us. Maybe, as well as our passengers, our bosses and the mayor will recognise how important we are, and the difference we will make during the Olympics.

Put simple, when we are brave and confident enough, when we all stand together, we are a force that can not be overcome.

 “From a steward at go ahead

Despite all the stirring from our managers and some of the scab unions, about no one would support the strike, Friday the 22nd of June will be a day I remember for the rest of my life, this wasLondon busworkers day!

I had never been on strike before in my life but here I was (rep in a go ahead garage) organising a picket line. I didn’t sleep the night before, although I people had promised to strike and picket, I was nervous that they would change their minds. I got to the garage at 2:30am an hour early having arranged to meet the first pickets at 3:30am. I was greeted by 2 other drivers saying “we didn’t know what time the picket started”.  By 3:30, 45 minutes before first bus, there were 12 people there as well as the early shift pickets!  The numbers grew quickly doubling in 15 minutes by 4am there were around 50 people milling around.

At 7am, it was clear that the strike was successful. Although some people did go into work, the vast majority were either on the picket or as some did going back home to bed so they could join the picket “at a more sensible time”.  All through the morning we had the radio on to hear that the strike was successful all acrossLondon, and the members cheered every time peter Kavanagh came on the radio.

By 8am I had spoken to lots of other reps in other garages and companies, all of them were telling me how they had huge pickets and none, if any busses going out. I had been awake by now for 28 hours, but the buzz and excitement from the members and the other stewards made me feel wide awake!

I stayed at my picket line from 2;30 am until 4pm. I have never seen so many bus drivers enjoying themselves. I must have shaken at least a hundred hands, while we congratulated each other on what we had done! We made history and did what no one thought we could or would. We showedLondonhow valuable we really are.

Greetings from the garages unable to strike

“From a steward at Londongeneral”

Well done to everyone who took part in the strikes (22/06/2012) over the award for the Olympics. You showed everyone that we can, and will stand up for ourselves! As long as we stay together, we can win this.

As a rep in one of the garages that was forced to work, because of an injunction, I had to explain to my members why they couldn’t join you. Last week, I went to my members and told them they were being re-balloted. This is their chance to stick 2 fingers up, by returning even more votes and a higher percentage strike vote!

 “From a driver at metroline”

Last Friday several garages were forced to sit by and watch their colleagues, from all overLondon, take strike action. This was a result of their employers using our harsh employment laws rather than talking to us!

Although the drivers at metroline were upset that they couldn’t join this momentous day, the vast majority understand that the blame for this rests squarely with our bosses.

Even though these companies used the law, they have failed to break our members resolve. Members across metroline andLondongeneral are now waiting to hear when they will be joining the rest ofLondon. It is common to hear metroline drivers talking about their anger at the company and the desire for retribution, joining our colleagues and taking an extra day to catch up with the rest ofLondon!

6 responses

  1. I was on the open top bus when we went to TFL office. It was a really good day. We spent the first hour making noise and upsetting the officious security guard. It was really funny when the top deck started a football chant of “we’re coming back here at lunch time, back here at lunch time, we’re coming back here at lunch time”. It was even funnier when the manager at abellio Battersea called the police. When the police turned up they hung around chatting asking for badges and moaning about the cuts they are facing. When the manager complained that the police should move us on, they started getting heavy with him about “what the law actually says”.
    I didn’t get my face on the news, but who cares, what a brilliant day talking to other bus drivers. Everyone I spoke to agree about us deserving the £500 and that we should stand up to our bosses too!

  2. John, I was there when the police came, that manager was getting redder and redder, with rage!
    Your right though, we went to about 8 garages and spoke to hundreds of drivers all agreed that we deserve the money, and were prepared to go on strike if they had too. Lots of drivers just thought it was about time we gave the boss a punch in the face, considering they have been kicking us about for the last few years.
    Every one agreed that we should be standing up for ourselves and not letting the companies mug us off any more.
    Ps who gave that loud bloke Steve a megaphone? An even funnier one… when the boss at Stockwell asked him, “Who are you?” to which he calmly raised the megaphone to the bosses face and said “I am the bloke with the megaphone, at full volume”. Nearly wet myself!!

  3. nice one john

  4. We must stick together. I am fed up with the bullying tactics. The way our Management try to plead with us to break the strike by leaving silly letters in our lockers pleading with us to break the strike whilst on the other hand making us work unrealistic and unsafe hours. I am striking just because I can. They can poke their offer from the place the sun dose not shine. We have paid for the Olympics via taxes, we have to work harder and longer through the Olympics whilst big business and Government cronies reap all the benefits. The Olympics mean nothing to me. The Olympic legacy will just be an unremoveble bitter taste in my mouth. This strike is not just about the Olympics, it’s to show a united front that all London bus workers can, and will stick together. We want one rate of pay for all London bus workers. END OF RANT.

    1. Well said!!!! Note, MOST OF US CANNOT EVEN GO TO THE OLYMPICS, TAKE OUR KIDS OUT FOR THE MOMENTOUS OCCASION AS WE ARE EITHER TOO BROKE OR WE ARE GOING TO BE HARD AT WORK KEEPING LONDON MOVING!!!! We are sacrificing quality time with our families all the time and get nothing in return!!!!!!!!!!!! Stand strong folks!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Well, I am from XXX garage and we did well on the 22nd as well!! I was really proud that we stood up and i hope that those who did work on that day will join us if we have to go out again as some of them apparently worked because not enough information was given to them for them to understand fully what this was all about and why it is that we need to all stand together. I walked half an hour in to work, getting there at six am and left at eight pm. I was on my feet all day long and was just too tired to stay any longer. But I really think that it was worth it and will do it again!! WE MUST BE RECOGNISED FOR OUR CONTRIBUTION AND MUST BE GIVEN THAT WHICH IS DUE TO US!!!!!!1 I WANT US TO PUT UP A FIGHT OR PROTECTION BY LAW FROM ATTACK….ALL OTHER PUBLIC SERVANTS ARE PROTECTED BY LAW, WHY SHOULD WE NOT BE INCLUDED WHEN WE ARE ON THE FRONTLINE FACING THE DANGER DAY IN DAY OUT!!! LETS STAND TOGETHER AND SHOW STRENGTH!!!!!!!!!

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