Transport for London is currently consulting on cuts to 4 per cent of London's bus network
The trade union Unite has warned of industrial action on London’s buses unless the threat to cut routes is taken off the table. This follows a six week consultation announced by Transport for London (TfL) into its proposals to cut 16 bus routes in London – around four per cent of the network. According to Unite, proposed cuts to the network would see a loss equal to 800 driver roles.
TfL claim to have launched the consultation in order to meet the conditions of the central government emergency funding designed to keep TfL operating and London’s public transport network moving. This additional funding is intended to meet the shortfall TfL has experienced due to declining revenue as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The government is forcing TfL to set out plans for significant financial savings in order to obtain the funding.
TfL has said, “The changes being consulted on are intended to cause as little disruption to passengers as possible, while making the required savings.”
Unite has called for clear guarantees that cutting routes won’t lead to job losses or reductions in take-home pay. The union says that London’s bus drivers rely upon overtime and rest day working to boost their income, something which they believe is under threat in the proposed cuts.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham has said industrial action is “fully on the table”. She said, “These cuts are an attempt to make London’s bus workers pay the price for the pandemic and we reject them entirely. The option of Unite taking industrial action to protect our members is fully on the table.
“Bus cuts also always harm those who can least afford to lose the bus service, our poorest communities. The mayor and the London Assembly must firmly reject TfL’s plans and stand up to the Westminster government.
“Don’t cut workers’ jobs and pay, don’t cut communities off. Instead, get on the side of working people and demand the funding needed to run a sustainable public transport system in London.”
Unite have also claimed that the planned cuts will have an adverse effect on passengers and will lead to more overcrowding, longer journeys and increased waiting times.
Unite regional officer John Murphy said: “The planned cuts in London’s bus services are bad news for passengers, bad news for communities and bad news for workers.
“Londoners should not be forced to pay for the pandemic by having their transport links, which are a lifeline for many, cut. Unite is committed to ensuring the threat to London’s bus routes is dropped.”
In addition to keeping industrial action on the table, Unite are encouraging members of the public to respond to TfL’s consultation, which closes on 12 July 2022.
Chris Jarvis is head of strategy and development at Left Foot Forward
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