Two days of bus strikes scheduled for London this Friday and Monday have been called off by Unite.
The walk-outs have been postponed as the transport union re-enters talks with bus operators in an attempt to settle pay disparities that exist across the city's 18 different employers. Unite says the cancellation is "a gesture of goodwill".
The latest round of action would have made it three strikes in a month with bus drivers having already staged a 28 hour walk-out last week. Support for that strike was questionable with TfL claiming that half of all buses still ran.
It is yet to be seen whether the "goodwill" that led to the postponement of this week's strikes will last very long. Speaking to The Evening Standard, Unite's Wayne King said:
"The ball is firmly in the court of London’s bus companies. They have a duty to London’s 6.8 million bus passengers to join us in collective talks to end the pay inequality and pay chaos on London’s buses. A failure to do so will mean that strike action and the disruption caused by the last two strongly supported strikes will be back on the cards."
Unite claims that pay differences between bus companies mean salaries can vary from £17,000 to £25,000, while TfL has argued that the disparities depend on routes, and that it would cost up to £100m a year if they were brought in line.
Just as one strike is called off though, there's another in the offing, this time by tube drivers.
The row between London Underground (LU) management and the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has been simmering since last year, when tube driver Alex McGuigan was sacked for supposedly failing a compulsory drug and alcohol test. The union has said McGuigan is diabetic, which can result in 'false positives' in tests for alcohol. Tube driving blogger ASLEF Shrugged has put together a pretty good outline of events so far.
The RMT has offered to call off the strike if an employment tribunal finds McGuigan's dismissal unfair and the driver is reinstated, but LU is holding firm. RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our members have voted for industrial action and the union will now consult extensively with our representatives before deciding on our next moves in this dispute.
“The union remains available for talks, at Acas if necessary, and as we have already stated we are ready to abide by any decision made at an employment tribunal and cannot understand London Underground’s reluctance to agree to that course of action.”