The prospect of a London bus drivers’ strike later this year has moved dramatically closer as bus workers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a consultative ballot.
The dispute which is branded the ‘sick and tired’ campaign concerns long hours, fatigue and exhaustion that bus drivers are experiencing due to poor scheduling of shifts, a lack of rest breaks, a deficiency of decent facilities for breaks, late finishing, a lack of running time and not being treated with respect.
In the London wide consultative ballot in the capital’s bus depots last Friday (7 February) members of Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, voted on average by 97 per cent in favour of strike action.
Unite will now begin the preparations for a full postal ballot of its members. If members vote for industrial action an across London bus strike could be held this spring.
Bus drivers in London report that the levels of exhaustion means that they are in danger of making driving errors and becoming a danger to passengers, other road users and themselves.
In the meantime it gives a last opportunity for all of the capital’s bus companies to develop a fatigue management system that they would all be obliged to implement.
Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “London bus drivers have resoundingly given their verdict that they are sick and tired of being exhausted at work.
“The ballot result must act as an immediate wake-up call to the bus operators in London, they must take immediate action to introduce effective and comprehensive fatigue management systems.
“Inaction, prevarication and delay are no longer an option for the companies as our members have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they want immediate action to improve working conditions.
“Strike action is being considered as a last resort. The problem of fatigue has been around for decades but has been getting significantly worse due to the work patterns our members are being forced to endure.”