London: Bus drivers in the UK are participating in a 24-hour London-wide strike today as part of their campaign for a single agreement covering pay and conditions.
Members of the Unite trade union covering 18 bus companies walked out at 05:30 IST as only 44 out of 673 bus routes are expected to operate today.
According to Unite, with no collective pay deal there were 80 different pay rates for drivers doing the same job.
It claims wages are negotiated on a company-by-company basis, meaning hourly rates could vary by more than 3 Pounds.
"Strike action is the last resort. We've been forced into this position by the operators' refusal to even meet with us," said Wayne King, London regional officer for Unite.
However, Transport for London (TfL) said less than 16 per cent of the bus drivers in London voted in favour of industrial action.
"It is extremely disappointing that Unite has decided to go ahead with this unnecessary disruption, especially given the low turnout for the ballot and low numbers voting for the strike," said TfL managing director of surface transport?Leon Daniels.
He added that bus drivers' pay and conditions were a matter for the bus companies and Unite to discuss.
"Unite is seeking to move to a common rate of pay across all bus companies in London and we have challenged this on the grounds that it would be illegal for us to agree to their demand," a spokesperson for Metroline, one of the bus companies involved, said.