London Bus Strike: one fare for passengers, one pay for drivers

Members of the Unite union walked out at 00:00 GMT on Thursday. Transport for London (TfL) said 47% of routes remained operational. The strike came to an end at 0400 GMT on Friday.

Tfl said about 390 bus routes ran a service and some 2,650 buses had been on the capital’s streets. The company called the strike “totally unnecessary” but the Unite union said the pay system was in “chaos” and a change is called for. The company supports allegations that there are large differences in pay between London’s 18 bus companies. Bus company Tower Transit said the union wanted firms to “act as a cartel”, which they legally could not.

Co-incidentally, the strike happened on the same day as we were blessed with some flurry in good ol’ London. One of many Londoners affected by the strike, spoke to Naija Living, “I had to wait in as the snow fell in North London, for a good 30 minutes, in order to get to school.” Another Londoner, walked for a good hour to get to college in Ashford. Whilst, some Londoners were determined to get to their place of interest, others saw an excuse in this strike to put up their feet and take a break.

The strike was the first of three 24-hour stoppages planned this month. The next are scheduled for 13 and 16 February.

London, as any other metropolis, is a city heavily dependent on its public transport system, tubes, trains and buses alike. In crammed, Victorian streets and high priced parking, cars are an unlikely option for a Londoner. More importantly, buses make up a big chunk of Londoners life; from school children to the elderly alike, buses serve all age groups, as evident during peak hours.

London bus drivers have a huge responsibility of keeping a well-oiled system running. And they seem to do it pretty well! You know the saying, “you don’t realise what you have, till you lose it,” very well applies in this context as London broke down into chaos as bus drivers took strike action. We need these people! We need them to take us places, so it is only fair that they are paid well and equally.

A few years ago, back in secondary school: 2007, I remember seeing images of a bus on TV with its top half blown off, completely. This was a result of the London Bombings. Any Londoner will remember that traumatic day, that doom struck the city, mainly impacting public transport, tubes and buses. This brings me to my second point; bus drivers are almost as prone to death as a soldier in a battlefield. They put their lives at risks, as they work long hours and overtime, to make ends meet.

Another reason is the already negative image associated with rioters or the public sector that wants to strike and protest. This should be seen as an act of freedom of speech. And since we all got our panties in bunch over the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, and the oppression of freedom of speech it signified, we should have even more reason be supporting strikes for a good cause.

So, since all bus drivers drive buses in the same city London, prone to violence, attacks, congestion and all that jazz, there is no reason for the drivers to be paid differently to their fellows across the various companies, contracted for London buses. Personally, I support this strike and the cause behind it.




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