A red London bus on the left of the image, driving toward the right. In front of a old London building. Abellio, written on the side of the bus, is staging bus strikes in south-west London in January 2024.

South west London bus strikes can still be avoided, says union

Bus strikes in south west London due to begin this Friday can still be avoided with an improved pay offer, the union involved has said. 

Staff at Abellio are due to begin six non-consecutive days of action on 19 January, after they voted to reject a pay increase of 5%

Walk-outs by those working in control rooms and garages in Battersea and Twickenham will cause disruption primarily in south west London. 

Regional Officer in the London and Eastern District for Unite the Union, John Murphy, said: “If the employer comes with a new offer, we will be happy to go and talk with them, even right up to Friday morning. 

“The red busses take people to the big buildings in the city where the big money is made, so there’s also a financial argument for this – I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a pay rise or to be treated with the same respect that their colleagues are given.

“The people we’re talking about are probably earning £12,000 less than people doing the same job across the road in a different company.

“Our members are the same people who have been most affected by the cost of living crisis for the last few years, and they are amongst the lowest paid employees in their role.” 

Abellio’s services will fall through the floor when the strike action begins, Murphy told SW Londoner. 

Transport for London (TfL) said services will still be available during the strike days, but routes may be busier than normal.

The union is staging bus strikes on 19 and 26 January, and 2, 9, 16 and 23 February.

The affected routes will include 24, 27, 111, 156, 159, 267, 285, 322, 344, 345, 415 , 490, 969, H20, H25, H26, R68 and R70. 

Unite claims that Abellio London registered profits of over £4 million from revenues of over £165 million in its latest accounts. 

A spokesperson for Abellio, which operates around 9% of buses in London, said it was disappointed by the decision to strike.

A spokesperson for Abellio said: “We have negotiated with Unite since April 2023 regarding pay for its members in our Controller and Officials staff groups.

“It is disappointing to see Unite take strike action following an unconditional offer of a 5 per cent increase in salary, back paid to January 2023.

“This offer is in line with increases made to other groups of staff within the business.

“We have mitigation plans in place for the strikes and are working with TfL to ensure Londoners can continue to travel during this unnecessary action.”

Rosie Trew, Head of Bus Service Delivery at TfL, said: ” We encourage Unite and Abellio to find a solution to this dispute.

“If this action goes ahead, bus services will still be available during strike days, but routes may be busier than normal.

“We’re encouraging everyone who might be affected to plan ahead, allow extra time for their journeys and check before they travel using our website or the TfL Go app.”

Featured image by Diego Paez on Unsplash.

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