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Long-running bus drivers’ dispute ends after 18% pay deal

Around 1,800 London bus drivers have accepted a pay increase, worth 18% to many, to end a long-running dispute that involved more than 20 days of strike action.

The Unite union, which represents the drivers employed by Abellio, said those with over two years’ service would get £18 per hour.

It equated to an 18% hike on the basic rate, it explained, way ahead of the main consumer prices index measure of inflation which currently stands at 10.5%.

They had originally sought a settlement of £20 per hour but agreed the package following a workplace ballot.

The dispute, which involved workers operating 800 vehicles on 60 routes, began in November when Unite argued that the Danish-owned firm was leaving its workforce at the mercy of the cost of living crisis by refusing to engage in meaningful talks.

It had sought a new staff scheduling arrangement as part of the deal.

“The agreement also includes increases to all rates including overtime and rest day working”, the union said.

“Negotiations over the last few weeks also saw an increase to the rate for new starters, increased rates for Saturday/Sunday working.

“The union also won the £18 per hour for drivers who transferred to Abellio under TUPE legislation (designed to protect employees when their organisation is taken over) and had not previously been made the offer.”

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Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, added: “This is an important pay victory.

“Workers have stood firm and with the support of their union, Unite, they have secured a richly deserved pay increase.”

A spokesperson from Abellio London said: “We are delighted that our drivers have now accepted the substantial pay rise we put in place in early January.

“This will see an increase in pay for all of our drivers, with a base rate rise of as much as 18% for some grades, equating to around £100 per week increase. We are proud that this makes us one of the highest paying operators in London with a new starter salary of c£32,000 moving to c£40,000 after 2-years’ service.

“It was disappointing that strikes unnecessarily continued into February despite this fantastic offer being made at the beginning of the year.

“It brings to an end a difficult period of industrial action which has been tough for the company, our drivers and our customers. With the issue now settled we look forward to continuing to offer Londoners outstanding service on our routes while making innovations on sustainable public transport.”