London bus operators ‘drinking in last chance saloon’ to avoid capital wide strikes
- Thursday 27 February 2020
Unite, the UK and Ireland’s largest union, has warned London’s bus operators that they must swiftly agree capital wide programmes to tackle the chronic problem of fatigue and exhaustion being experienced by bus drivers.
Sick and tired
Earlier this month as part of the union’s ‘sick and tired’ campaign, London bus drivers recorded a 97 per cent vote in a consultative ballot in favour of strike action, if measures are not introduced to tackle exhaustion and fatigue.
Unite has now written to all London bus operators seeking urgent meetings to begin the process of agreeing a London wide fatigue management system.
Ballot of members
If bus operators do not quickly proceed to support an acceptable fatigue management system then Unite will move to a full postal ballot of members, which could then lead to strikes this spring.
Bus drivers are experiencing fatigue and exhaustion 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.
Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “Make no mistake London bus operators are now drinking in the last chance saloon.
“Unite bus drivers have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action they are simply no longer prepared to cope with the devastating effects that permanent work related fatigue is having on their physical and mental health, and diminishing their family lives.
“If operators do not swiftly proceed to instigating a comprehensive London wide fatigue management system for all bus drivers, then Unite will ballot our members for strike action.
“If strikes action does occur then travel throughout London will inevitably be severely affected.”
A survey by Loughborough University which was commissioned by TfL, and published last August, discovered that 21 per cent of bus drivers had to ‘fight sleepiness’ at least two or three times a week and 17 per cent had actually fallen asleep at the wheel at least once in the past year.
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Barckley Sumner on 020 3371 2067 or 07802 329235.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.