Thousands of bus drivers in London and the neighbouring county of Kent plan to strike in a dispute over pay, the Unite union said, threatening further disruption to a transport system already facing walkouts by railway workers early next month.
More than 2,000 drivers at bus operator Arriva will strike from 4 October in London, Unite said on Wednesday 21 September, while 600 Kent-based staff employed by the same company will walk out on 30 September.
The plans come after railway workers from several rail operators across the country said they would strike in early October, when the governing Conservative Party's annual conference is due to take place in Birmingham.
Unite said the strike by London bus drivers would run continuously until the dispute was resolved.
A worsening cost-of-living crisis in Britain has prompted workers in industries from railways and airlines to barristers and even trade union staff to either threaten or undertake strike action in disputes over pay and conditions.
In recent days a number of unions have set out fresh dates for strikes that were postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth earlier this month.
"Arriva has totally failed to address the strength of feeling among our members as they see their rates of pay eroded. The company needs to return to the negotiating table with an offer which meets workers' reasonable expectations," Unite regional officer Steve Stockwell said in a statement.
Arriva, which is headquartered in Sunderland in northern England and owned by Germany's state-owned Deutsche Bahn, did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.
London Transport Commissioner Byford To Leave; COO Lord Named Interim Head
The above news was followed by news that Transport for London (TfL), which runs the British capital's rail and bus system, said its commissioner Andy Byford will leave the organisation after more than two years in the role and named its chief operating officer, Andy Lord, as the interim head.
During Byford's tenure, TfL secured further financial support £1.16 billion for London transport, until end-March 2024 from the British government, as the pandemic wreaked havoc.
Tfl said in a statement on Thursday 22 September that Lord will takeover as the commisisoner on an interim basis starting 25 October, with Byford, who joined TfL in June 2020, leaving for the United States.
In May, TfL opened London's long-delayed and over-budget $24 billion Crossrail to passengers, offering faster journeys from Heathrow Airport and Berkshire in the west to Essex in the east through a series of new, long tunnels under Britain's capital.
The railway, which has been renamed the "Elizabeth" line in honour of Queen Elizabeth, is expected to carry 200 million people a year and will increase London's rail capacity by 10%, TfL had said.