What about drivers? What protections will there be for staff?
Under the current unregulated wild west system, you’ve seen numerous scandals where bus companies aren’t paying their staff properly, and often paying staff within the same company different wages for doing the same job . We saw last year how drivers were being paid £5,000 less than drivers doing the same job five miles away. It’s shocking that the people that connect us to the places we need to be are not being paid consistent and good wages, and we’ve seen lots of strikes understandably.
Franchising should be handled properly to prevent disruption to drivers, and this can be done with proper planning.
According to the Transport for Quality of Life report, Building a world-class bus system for Britain:
'deregulation in Britain resulted in a ‘race to the bottom’, with companies striving for commercial advantage through obtaining the lowest staff pay and worst working conditions. The effect on bus companies’ employees has been devastating, with bus drivers’ pay falling far behind that of other occupations'
"In other European countries where bus services are procured by franchising, there are sector-wide standards for wages and conditions."
The report goes on:
"In the period before deregulation, average bus drivers’ wages were similar to average wages for all occupations. After deregulation, this decisively changed. While average wages for all occupations rose by 25% in real terms in the decade following deregulation, bus drivers’ wages fell by 11%. From the mid-1990s onwards, bus drivers’ wages began to rise in real terms, but at a similar rate to the real-terms rise for all occupations, so that the gap remained."
We are calling for:
- Local authorities to adopt minimum staff terms and conditions that must be met by all operators. This would prevent competition taking place on the basis of a ‘race to the bottom’ in employment terms and conditions". Under a regulated network, local authorities could set standards that must be met by all operators running their services, so we can be sure that drivers and other staff are getting a good deal.
- Bus sector statutory joint industrial councils should be established for each franchised area and at national level to set staff pay, conditions and pensions.
- Explicit rules to apply TUPE to bus franchising are required.
Jobs and pensions should and will be protected. Franchising should be handled properly to prevent disruption to drivers, and this can be done with proper planning.
Photo credit to Athena Mellor