12 June 2019
RMT Press Office
BUS UNION RMT has today welcomed growing political support for the campaign to cut dangerously long hours and put the future of Britain’s buses, and the staff who operate them, centre stage.
Last year the union surveyed RMT bus worker members to ask about their experiences of working in the industry, as part of our response to the Transport Committee inquiry into 'The Health of the Bus Market'. Hundreds of our members responded.
The key message from the survey was that local bus services are in decline because they are run for private profit and not as a public service. For instance:
84% of bus workers said they think bus services should be publicly owned
76% did not think there was enough funding for bus services
80% were unaware of any Government policies that support and protect bus services
There were multiple examples of poor working conditions and long hours citied, for instance:
“Cut to the bone. Have to work 6 days for a decent wage.”
“There are not enough drivers and drivers are encouraged to do more hours, thus putting passengers' lives at risk”
“Poor support from bus operators to drivers. Profit before wages”
In our response to the inquiry, RMT has highlighted the urgent need to tackle low pay and long hours in the industry, which is not subject to the same regulations as long distance drivers. RMT set out its support for a private members Bill, tabled by Matt Western MP, which seeks to limit local bus driver hours and increase breaks to the same levels as those for long distance drivers, with no detriment to pay.
Matt Western has now set up an online petition in support of his Bill, which the union is encouraging the travelling public to sign - https://bit.ly/2K98y7h
The Transport Committee has recently published its response to the inquiry and it backs the RMT's call for bus driver hours to be limited. The report states that 'we are concerned that recruitment and retention in the bus industry is hampered by long hours and poor pay' and recommends that the Government consult on amending legislation as proposed by Matt Western's Bill.
The Report also backed demands for a national forum and discussions involving the unions and employers to address long pay, recruitment, and safety.
RMT General Secretary, Mick Cash said:
“RMT welcomes the growing political support for our campaign to end the dangerous practice of long hours which is very clearly linked to the culture of low pay in Britain’s bus industry. Safety of passengers and staff alike is being compromised and it is time to end this scandal.
“For too long the bus industry in Britain has been left to decline in the face of rank profiteering by the private operators and a wall of silence from the politicians. No longer.
“RMT will be working with our allies to put the decimation of Britain’s vital bus services, and the case for public ownership, centre stage as we move towards an expected General Election.”