Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Bus drivers begin 24-hour strike

A bus stop
The walkout, which is over pay, is due to end at 0400 GMT on Saturday

A 24-hour bus strike has begun in east London, with members of the Unite union working for transport firm CT Plus protesting over a 2.25% pay offer.

Routes 153 and 388 have been halted while "a skeleton service" has been running on buses 394 and W13.

Unite spokesman Peter Kavanagh said members were on low wages to begin with "and fed up struggling to get by".

CT Plus' parent company said the offer was generous when compared with the pay rises offered to most Londoners.

Travel services, including buses to the Richard Cloudesley Islington School and the scooter-hire service in Camden, were also likely to face disruption on Friday.

A spokesman for Unite said support amongst its members had been "very good". The walkout is due to end at 0400 GMT on Saturday.

Mr Kavanagh said: "CT Plus may pride itself on being a social enterprise and a creator of jobs, but the cold reality is their expansion if being paid for out of the pockets of low-paid bus workers.

"This company cannot expect to get fat on basement-level wages for its workforce, in one of the most expensive cities in the world, and get away with it."

'Hardship and disruption'

The chief executive of the HCT Group, Dai Powell, who is in charge of CT Plus, said that in the current economic climate he was "sure that Londoners will be as disappointed as we are that Unite has rejected a pay offer of 2.25%".

"We hope that Unite will think again, considering that of 151 members balloted, only 41 voted in favour of strike action - just 27% of the workforce actively voted to strike.

"The strike will cause hardship and disruption to people in our communities who rely on our buses to access their livelihoods, their healthcare and other vital services," he said.

A spokesman for Transport for London said it was disappointed the strike had gone ahead and it regretted any disruption caused.

"We would urge both parties to talk to resolve this issue as quickly as possible," he said.

Last week members of Unite working at East London Bus Group staged a 48-hour strike over pay, their second walkout in a fortnight.

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