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Bus strikes affect Bexley commuters

PUBLISHED: 18:44 22 June 2012

2010 AFP

A union strike is affecting bus travellers across Bexley today.

Members of the Unite union are protesting because they want a £500 Olympic bonus from their bosses due to extra shifts they will have to take on.

Strikers came out in force to make their point known outside Bexleyheath Bus Garage in Erith Road. They were represented from 3am on Friday morning (June 22) through to 3am on Saturday morning,

Dennis Light, senior officer for Unite at Bexleyheath, said: “If the bus companies say no to our demands, it’s not for me to say what the next course of action will be but I believe in what we’re fighting for is just.

“The support we’ve received from people on the street has been brilliant - it would not be an exaggeration to say not one person has given us a negative reception so far.

“I’ve seen a very low number of buses going past. I’ve been here since the start and I’ve seen maybe a dozen, and it’s now 10.30am.”

Support was not universal though. Commuters took to Twitter to express their views on the strikes.

@samjmedhurst said: “Why are the Bexley bus drivers on strike anyway? They’re nowhere near the Games so their jobs won’t be any harder.”

@TaninaYounsi said: “Can’t believe I’ve walked all the way from Bexleyheath to Shooters Hill and no 486s or 89s have gone past.”

Talks with conciliatory service ACAS broke down at the last minute leaving bus drivers saying they had no option but to strike.

Mr Light said: “We should be getting the same as other transport workers.

“It’s not for me to say whether people’s individual opinions are right or wrong but we have to ask ourselves are we getting a fair deal?”

Three of the companies were told strike action by Unite members would be illegal in a last minute injunction at the High Court the day before the action. They were Arriva, Metroline and Go Ahead.

But those most prominent in the borough are the South East London & Kent Bus Co, London General Transport Services and the London Central Bus Company, who are all going ahead with the planned action.

A statement by one of the company’s said: “We are disappointed Unite have walked out of talks.

“We can only apologise for disruption this has caused bus passengers.”

Despite the reduced service secondary schools in Bexleyheath were not reporting major problems of pupils failing to get into school.

Bus users were urged to walk, cycle or use alterative forms of transport.

What do you think about the strike action? Contact the news room on 0208 477 3858 or at robin.cottle@archant.co.uk.

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