19 Days Remaining

Friday 6th
posted by Conrad Landin in Britain

A SCAB bus driver “wiped out” and “boned” a black cab in a busy thoroughfare yesterday — as staff at all 16 London bus operators walked out in demand of equal pay.

Exclusive pictures supplied to the Morning Star by an eye-witness show emergency services attending the scene of a 453 bus colliding head on with the side of a taxi in Portland Place, central London.

A Metropolitan Police spokeswoman confirmed cops were called to the scene at 1.40pm GMT, but left after concluding it was a “damage-only incident.”

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said that roads were closed and traffic severely disrupted in the immediate aftermath.

The eyewitness, who passed the scene at 1.50pm, said: “I just wondered if it had been the result of non-professional bus workers driving buses, but I had no reason to think that.”

The incident was also witnessed by another cab driver, calling himself Adam the Cabbie, who wrote on Twitter: “Black cab wiped out, boned by bus Portland place.”

“Hit nearside but pushed into parked cars … did not want to rubberneck,” he added.

A spokeswoman for London General, the privateer operator of the route, said none of the company’s buses were being driven by non-regular drivers as a result of the strike.

But Transport for London said managers were permitted to drive buses so long as they had the right qualifications and that a number of operations would indeed have been taken over by managers yesterday.

Bus drivers are locked in a bitter dispute with bosses over pay differences, with each operator setting its own rates. Starting pay varies from £9.30 to £12.34 an hour depending on the company.

Another operator, Tower Transit, said the union demand for one pay rate across the capital would make operators “act as a cartel and our legal advice is we cannot do that.”

Unite regional officer Wayne King said: “Today’s disruption is regrettable, but the blame lies squarely with London’s 18 bus companies who have continued to refuse to talk collectively over the last two years.

“To suggest such talks would be illegal is misleading. Are they saying that collective arrangements covering the construction industry or the police are illegal?”