London's bus drivers deserve a better deal. Metroline bus drivers picket outside of Willesden bus depot in north west London.
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According to the BLS, the median annual salary for a transit and intercity bus driver was $36,700 in 2013. The best-paid drivers made $60,960, while the.
Bus Driver Salary : $30193 (average). What does a Bus Driver earn in your area? 645 Bus Driver Salaries from anonymous employees.
Photograph: SUZANNE PLUNKETT/REUTERS. If it achieves nothing else, today’s bus strike will underline for Londoners how vital the bus service is to the capital. Around six million bus passenger journeys are made every day on the city’s fleet of around 8,800 big, red vehicles, compared to around four million made on the Underground, whose workings and industrial relations receive so much more attention. About 2. 3 billion bus journeys are made in Greater London every year, which is as many as the whole of the rest of England combined.
The bus is the bedrock of the capital’s public transport system and, being the lowest priced, the one most accessible to the well-off and the hard-pressed alike. The drivers of those buses deserve a better deal.
Today’s 24-hour stoppage by members of Unite. which says it represents over 25,000 bus drivers, is a very big event. The first on this scale for 30 years, it encompasses all but 44 of the capital’s 670 bus routes and 18 of the individual companies that operate them. Judging by the near total absence of buses early this morning serving the cluster of major routes that run close to my home - the 38, 48, 56, 106, 253 and 254 - the strike is being well-supported. This action is Unite’s latest move in a campaign to improve the incomes of drivers employed by those different companies. It claims these can be as low as £17,000 a year rising to about £25,000 depending on who your boss is. Unite’s goal is to secure a single agreement for all London bus drivers covering pay, terms and conditions.
It thinks a reasonable rate for the job would be between £28,000 and £30,000. It’s hard to argue that drivers’ wages aren’t too low. The average London salary is £41,500 a year. The average hourly bus driver rate has been calculated as £10.
18 an hour compared with the London Living Wage of £9. 15 an hour, which Boris Johnson endorses as the minimum required for a decent standard of living in the high cost capital. Some bus drivers say their rate barely reaches that basic level. Not poverty pay, but hardly a fortune for such a responsible job.
Unite sees a London-wide negotiating platform as the best way to improve its members’ lot and points to a survey it commissioned which found that two thirds of passengers agree that a single rate should be paid for the job. The strike is being supported by the Labour’s London Assembly transport spokesperson Val Shawcross and by the Green Party group.
Shawcross’s Liberal Democrat counterpart Caroline Pidgeon has described the variations in pay and conditions as “a strange anomaly” given that Tube drivers are all paid the same. The Conservative mayor, unsurprisingly, has less sympathy. As he’s been explaining on the radio, he regards the differentials as logical - indeed, “very, very sensible” - given that bus routes themselves vary from one part of the metropolis to another and has condemned the strike as a bid by Unite to gain more power. This observation may be akin to observing that rain is wet, but is consistent with Conservative plans to legislate to make it much harder for workers in what David Cameron calls “essential” public service jobs to go on strike. Johnson is stressing that only 16% of Unite’s bus drivers backed today’s stoppage in a ballot. He has also argued that the present, fragmented negotiation landscape - which the union says facilitates a “race to the bottom” - was never challenged by his Labour predecessor Ken Livingstone. Unite’s call for a standard rate of pay certainly does go back to Livingstone’s time.
A difficulty for the union is that both the current mayor and TfL can say that drivers’ pay and conditions aren’t directly their responsibility and never have been. London’s bus service was fully privatised 20 years ago, before the mayoralty and TfL existed. Unless and until some future national government reverses that deregulation or a future London mayor requires TfL to build the equalisation and improvement of bus driver pay into its contract negotiations with the companies that run London’s routes they will be short of allies in high places. The disruption caused by the strike will, of course, be costly for many Londoners. Yet bus drivers’ case for better pay is a strong one. Today, it is at last being loudly heard.