Travel disruption expected as 3,000 London bus drivers are set to strike in December

Almost 3,000 bus drivers in London will strike in December. Credit: PA

Almost 3,000 bus drivers in London are pressing ahead with a series of strikes next month that threaten to disrupt travel in the busy run-up to Christmas.

Unite said 2,000 of its members employed by Metroline and 950 at Abellio will take seven days of action between 1-17 December in disputes over pay.

Unite said some of the Metroline drivers were paid just over £13 an hour and were struggling to keep their heads above water during the cost-of-living crisis.

The union said the company’s latest offer of a 10% pay increase and 9% on back pay was rejected by the workforce, as it amounted to a real terms pay cut because of the rate of inflation.

The Metroline workers, who are based across north and west London, will be striking on December 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 15 and 16.

The first three days of the industrial action will be co-ordinated with Abellio bus drivers in south and west London, who have a separate industrial dispute over pay.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Metroline is an exceptionally wealthy company and it is unforgivable that it is paying among the lowest driver pay rates in London.

“Rates of pay at Metroline are so low that workers simply can’t cope as the cost of living crisis continues to worsen. This is a company that can afford to pay but has chosen not to do so.

“Our bus driver members in London are receiving Unite’s complete support.”

Unite regional officer Laura Johnson said: “Strike action will undoubtedly cause severe disruption across London but this dispute is entirely of Metroline’s own making.”

Unite said the dispute is 'of Metroline's own making' Credit: Press Association

Ms Graham added: “Abellio is a vastly wealthy multi-national company that could and should be paying its workers a fair pay increase. With workers struggling to cope with rampant inflation, Abellio’s failure to even enter into meaningful pay talks is cold-hearted and callous.”

The Abellio drivers will strike on 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 December.

A Metroline spokesperson said: “Despite Unite the Union’s claims, Metroline drivers are amongst the highest paid in London and Unite are categorically wrong to claim otherwise.

“Under recommendation from Unite, drivers at three of our garages have already voted to accept a substantial 10% pay increase with additional benefits.

“We are therefore deeply disappointed that Unite are now denying the very same offer to all of our colleagues and in the last few days have changed their pay demand from 10.5% to 13%.

“We continue to be committed to negotiations and are pleased that Unite have accepted our offer to meet with Acas.”

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