Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 11:09 UK

Bus drivers to strike in pay row

Union leaders are demanding a single rate of pay of 30,000 for drivers

Thousands of London bus drivers are to go on strike in a row over pay.

Members of the Unite union are demanding an equal rate of pay for drivers across the bus network, which is operated by 18 different companies.

Unite said 2,500 staff employed by First will walkout for 24 hours from 0300 BST on 29 August and again for 48 hours on 12 September.

They voted to strike after rejecting a 3.5% pay increase from First who maintained it was a "good offer".

The industrial action will mainly affect bus routes in east and west London.

Unite is campaigning for London's 28,000 bus drivers to be paid 30,000 a year, based on a 38-hour week.

Share of profits

It claims the disparity between different operators can be as much as 6,000. It also said sick pay, pensions and holiday arrangements differed.

Unite's industrial organiser George Dodo-Williams said: "London bus drivers have consistently delivered huge increases in efficiency and performance since the return of local government to London.

"But they are being forced to take action to stake their claim for a share of the profits generated by their hard work."

A spokesman for Unite said ballots were also being held in relation to other operators.

Downward pressure

The forthcoming industrial action will include drivers who work for First Capital East and Centrewest London Buses, which operate under First.

Adrian Jones from First said: "The London bus market has always been competitive and there is continuing downward pressure on tender prices.

"In the current circumstances, we believe the pay offer of 3.5% is a good one, particularly compared with those currently being made in many sectors."

First said most drivers were paid more than 25,000 a year with 25% of drivers earning more than 30,000 a year for a normal working week.

The firm said the union's campaign to bring pay into line was "unrealistic".

Transport for London (TfL) said it was powerless to intervene because bus drivers are employed by private companies.

Bus drivers rally over more pay
24 Jul 08 |  London

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific