Why bus drivers are going on strike ‘indefinitely’— and which areas are affected

Train drivers, postal workers and even barristers have been walking out of their jobs over disputes about pay and working conditions in recent months.

To add to commuter woes, thousands of bus drivers are about to join them on the picket lines as unions announced an ominous set of “indefinite” strikes.

The summer of discontent has spilled over into autumn, as the largest schism in industrial relations in a generation continues in the UK.

Rail strikes throughout the summer disrupted thousands of journeys and brought the network to a standstill.

But now travellers will have to contend with a double whammy of bus strikes intertwined with the latest rail strike dates.

Which areas are affected by bus strikes?
Bus users in London, Kent and East Yorkshire will all experience disruption in September and October.

The areas are impacted by three separate rows over wages.

Co-ordinated by the union Unite, around 2,000 drivers employed in Arriva’s North London division will start an indefinite strike from October 4.

The lack of end date on the action means strikes could keep being announced for later weeks.

The planned strike affects Arriva drivers operating from eight depots in north and east London: Ash Grove, Barking, Clapton, Edmonton, Enfield, Palmers Green, Tottenham and Wood Green.

The Evening Standard reported that at least 40 routes would be affected, in a move that is likely to wreak havoc on the capital’s bus network.

In Kent, 600 bus drivers employed by Arriva will strike on September 30.

The drivers heading for the picket line operate from depots in Gillingham, Gravesend, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.

In Hull, Unite said it had been handed a “huge industrial action mandate” by members for “all-out strike action”.

It will lead to 250 Stagecoach bus drivers, cleaners, engineers and commercial assistants in the region taking “continuous” action between October 7 and December 29.

It is expected to have a knock-on impact on people getting to Hull Fair, a visitor attraction in the area that draws more than half a million people every year, which runs from October 7 to October 15.

The announcements come against a background of more rail strikes planned by different unions on October 5, 6 and 8.

Why are bus drivers striking?
Pay is the main cause for disgruntlement among workers in the face of soaring inflation and a cost of living crisis in Britain.

Unite is seeking a wage increase in line with RPI inflation, currently 12.3%, for its London and Kent-based members working for Arriva.

The union’s general secretary Sharon Graham said her members had “generated huge profits for the company for decades”.

She added: “Arriva can afford to offer a pay increase that meets the real rate of inflation but it has put profits before people and declined to do so.

“Unite will leave no stone unturned in the support given to our members during this dispute.”

Speaking about the Kent dispute, Unite regional officer Janet Nobbs said the row was “entirely of Arriva’s own making”.

“Arriva has had every opportunity to return to negotiations and make an improved offer but it has failed even to contact Unite, to seek a resolution to the dispute,” she said.

Arriva UK Bus London said it was “very disappointed” a settlement had not been reached, arguing it had offered a “generous pay rise”.

Operations director for Arriva in the capital Alex Jones said the firm was continuing discussions over a “fair and affordable pay rise for bus workers across the region”.

On the Humber, Unite said workers were “angry” about their wages falling behind Stagecoach colleagues in other parts of the country.

It said Stagecoach drivers in Merseyside earn £14 an hour, while Hull drivers earn almost £3 less at £11.14.

The union wants drivers to be paid £13 per hour, with other roles increasing in-line with the same percentage.

Stagecoach have hit out at the decision to strike, declaring that Unite “seems determined to cause the maximum possible disruption during Hull’s largest annual event”.

Matt Cranwell, managing director of Stagecoach East Midlands told Hull Live : “We have offered our people a 14.5% pay increase, which would make our drivers the highest paid of any in the region.

The regional bus boss said the transport company remained “open for further talks” and urged the union to continue negotiations.