Bus staff strike over pay as Metroline defends offer

London bus company Metroline believes it did all it could to avoid its staff striking today.

While in talks with trade union Unite yesterday, Metroline offered its staff a 4% pay increase. But no agreements were reached, and along with more than 5,000 other bus drivers, Metroline staff joined a 24-hour strike which started at 3am this morning over pay conditions.

Metroline chief operating officer Sean O’Shea said: “We believe this is a very fair offer. This realistic 4% follows previous sustained pay increases over the past three years, resulting in 25% higher pay than in 2005. Current earnings for drivers are among the highest for the industry.”

The strike, which trade union Unite proposed to all members, affected other bus companies such as First.

Unite is asking for a standard rate of pay for bus drivers of £30,000 a year, based on 38 hours a week. The 18 bus companies which operate in London all currently have different pay structures, with pay inequalities of up to £7,000 a year.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite senior regional official, said: “Our members are striking because of the employers’ and [London mayor] Boris Johnson’s failure to listen to them.

“There is a shocking difference between bus drivers’ pay in London, with rosters in some companies seeing many drivers complete nearly 60 hours per week.”

The strike disrupted 163 bus routes in and around London, and will finish at 3am tomorrow morning.

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