North London bus drivers threaten ‘all-out’ indefinite strike in row over pay

FILE: A bus in central London  (PA)
FILE: A bus in central London (PA)

Bus drivers in north London appear set to launch an “all-out” indefinite strike from next month in a row over pay.

Around 2,000 drivers employed by Arriva could stage the walk-out from October 4 if they are not offered a pay increase in line with the RPI inflation rate of 12.3%, the union Unite warned on Wednesday.

It said drivers in the company’s north London division would walk-out indefinitely unless the dispute is resolved.

The planned strike affects Arriva drivers operating from eight depots in north and east London: Ash Grove, Barking, Clapton, Edmonton, Enfield, Palmers Green, Tottenham and Wood Green.

Both Unite and Arriva said the action meant no Arriva services would run from the affected depots.

At least 40 routes would be affected, bringing widespread travel disruption across the capital’s bus network.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Our members at Arriva have generated huge profits for the company for decades.

“Arriva can afford to offer a pay increase that meets the real rate of inflation, but it has put profits before people and declined to do so. Unite will leave no stone unturned in the support given to our members during this dispute.”

According to the Arriva website, it runs some 49 routes across London from the affected depots. Those slated for strike action are more than half the total routes run by the bus company.

It comes as the RMT union announced a day of industrial action on Network Rail and 14 train operating companies on October 1st in a row over job security, pay and working conditions.

RMT members are also taking action - separate to the national rail strike - on Arriva Rail London, the firm that runs the London Overground, effectively bringing it to a standstill.

Alex Jones, Operations Director for Arriva UK Bus London said the company was “very disappointed” at the announcement of strike action, saying it had offered a generous pay rise.

He said: “Our people play a hugely important role keeping London moving and they fully deserve a fair pay rise – especially with the cost-of-living increasing so much. 

“It’s why despite the significant, increasing costs pressures on the bus sector, we have offered a generous pay rise – higher than any other London Bus operator and an increase far higher than most workers are receiving from their employers at a time of considerable economic pressure.”

“Any pay settlement must be affordable and strike action is counter-productive, harms the communities and customers we serve, and damages bus travel at a time when we should all be focused on building recovery from the pandemic.”

A TfL spokesperson said: “Strikes are bad news for everyone. We encourage both parties to get round the table and find a solution to this dispute to avoid disruption to Londoners.”