Bus Controllers' Strike to Hit Local Routes

Abellio staff planning industrial action on six days

Abellio buses. Picture: Unite


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January 17, 2024

Some local bus routes are set to be affected by forthcoming industrial action by bus controllers.

40 Abellio staff who are members of the Unite union plan to walk out on six separate days as part of a dispute over pay.

Bus controllers work in control rooms instructing drivers on traffic jams or accidents and ensure overall safety on the routes using GPS systems to monitor bus routes.

They are unhappy with management’s offer of a five per cent pay increase for last year which they say is a cut in real terms for employees who already earn approximately £10,000 per year less than similar staff at other bus companies doing the same job.

Controllers, managers and supervisors based at both Battersea bus garage and Twickenham bus garage are staging walkouts on the following successive Fridays: 19 and 26 January and 2, 9, 16 and 23 February.

The routes that affected by industrial action include those serving Chiswick, Brentford, Putney and Hammersmith. The full list of routes is: 24, 27, 111, 156, 159, 267, 285, 322, 344, 345, 415 , 490, 969, H20, H25, H26, R68, R70.

These services will still be operating but the union expects them to be heavily disrupted and not run to scheduled timetable.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said, “Abellio’s poor pay offer will bring chaos to London as our members take strike action to fight for better pay.

“Abellio has hundreds of millions of pounds of revenue from lucrative London bus contracts and yet it is trying to short-change some of its most vital staff. It needs to understand our members won’t stand for it.”

Unite regional officer Maxine Loza said, “These workers provide an absolutely vital service to bus drivers and passengers. Yet Abellio is treating them with disdain with this pay offer.

“Abellio needs to come back to the table with an improved offer to avoid ruining the journeys of millions of Londoners. Abellio is to blame for this strike and they need to fix it.”

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% 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.”

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