Home West London Bus drivers at London’s Cricklewood depot defend David O’Sullivan: “They want to...

Bus drivers at London’s Cricklewood depot defend David O’Sullivan: “They want to make us into robotic slaves”

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The World Socialist Web Site has begun publishing interviews and messages in help of David O’Sullivan’s reinstatement at Cricklewood bus storage in north west London.

O’Sullivan, 57, was sacked on February 3 after he sought to alert his colleagues to the unfold of COVID-19 at the storage. He asserted his rights to a secure office underneath Section 44 of the Employment Rights Act.

David O’Sullivan

At least 60 bus employees in London have died from coronavirus because the begin of the pandemic.

Today, we’re operating statements from bus drivers at Cricklewood storage who’re members of the London Bus Rank-and-File Committee. Their names have been eliminated to shield towards victimisation.

The first driver who spoke with WSWS described occasions in early January main to O’Sullivan’s dismissal: “It was a extremely unhealthy state of affairs, with infections spreading at the double. There had been loads of drivers going off sick and plenty of had been being pressured again to work. I personally know a number of the drivers who had been pressured to return.

“The managers didn’t want to do something, they even tried to conceal the infections. Track-and-trace at the storage was and is non-existent.

“Managers needed drivers who had Covid signs or had been ready for check outcomes to return to work. Drivers advised managers it was unsafe, however they had been ignored. Some drivers refused and stated, ‘No, I’m not coming again, it’s utterly unsafe.’ But I do know others got here to work regardless that that they had signs, particularly new drivers, who didn’t know they might refuse.”

The committee member gave examples of different security breaches by Metroline: “Social-distancing wasn’t enforced. The stand-by drivers had been saved in a really small room, all collectively, ready for any responsibility to are available in. There was no social-distancing between them. When these points had been raised with administration, they stated, ‘It’s your job, and in the event you’re not joyful you’ll be able to resign.’

“Passenger limits had been by no means enforced. Nobody cared about that at TfL [Transport for London]. When we as drivers tried to impose the bounds, there have been passenger complaints towards us. Instead of following what TfL stated—that we gained’t be punished for that—we’ve been punished. I do know a number of the drivers who had been getting warning letters. So yeah, TfL and Metroline truly pressured us to breach their passenger limits.”

The WSWS requested about Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s current declare on LBC Radio that drivers’ cabins had been being cleaned between change-overs, “[Laughs] I can solely say it’s full bullshit, actually. They aren’t even correctly cleaned when the buses return to the storage. They aren’t even utilizing disinfectants anymore. So that’s full BS.”

Metroline was additional failing to warn drivers when colleagues on their route caught Covid: “Our co-workers typically weren’t knowledgeable, particularly when it was a spare driver who was sick. When drivers had been knowledgeable, it was normally after two weeks, and even three weeks in a single case, after the driving force obtained a constructive check. Track-and-trace at the storage was full nonsense and it wasn’t enforced at all.”

Describing the background to the rank and file committee’s name for a walkout to halt the unfold of infections, the driving force recalled, “In September we wrote to Metroline and we demanded to be shielded from Covid, however the managers utterly ignored us. And the union rep additionally utterly ignored our issues and stated all the things that might be completed had been completed. So, the drivers made a press release as a result of they needed to be protected.

“The name for a walkout was to attempt to stop infections from spreading.”

Asked whether or not drivers had been fearful concerning the renewed unfold of infections, in January, the committee member replied, “I’d describe it extra as anger. The drivers had been indignant that their voices weren’t being heard. Their considerations had been being ignored they usually had been being attacked by the corporate, the passengers and TfL.”

O’Sullivan’s sacking, he defined, was an assault on the rights of all bus employees: “David has been handled unfairly. The firm is attempting to push our authorized rights out of bounds. They want to make us into robotic slaves, to simply shut up and do our job and neglect about our authorized rights. Dave’s case is getting used as a present of energy by the corporate.

“They are even spreading pretend rumours about Dave’s case. They have been saying that Dave was giving out pretend Unite flyers and was attempting to pose as a union rep. This is ridiculous because the committee assertion was truly condemning Unite’s inaction.

“Quite quite a lot of drivers are being intimidated by what the corporate is doing. Right now it’s worry, and anger after all at sacking Dave. Drivers at the moment are getting warned or despatched to ‘retraining’ for very minor issues, minor scratches, minor injury that doesn’t have an effect on both the corporate, the bus, or mileage. We are driving on a regular basis in busy streets and with loads of visitors on the market.

“Drivers are being suspended, victimised and warned over all the things. Even small errors can go to a last written warning. There are at least two disciplinary hearings a day.

“It’s time to arise. It’s time to present the corporate and the union that we now have rights and a voice. The committee’s work is essential as a result of the union is attempting to cover-up all the things. At the start of the pandemic they went together with TfL that there was nothing to fear about. The committee was telling the reality, that it’s a extremely harmful virus to all of us, which the deaths of so many drivers has confirmed. Thanks to the committee, the drivers can truly know the reality, as a substitute of TfL and union propaganda.

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“Now, it’s the ruling class towards the widespread folks. It’s the wealthy folks—and people within the center class bought-off by the wealthy—towards the widespread people who find themselves preventing for his or her rights. The working class are going through increasingly strain, with our backs towards the wall. We are only a revolution ready to occur.”

Another driver from the rank-and-file committee defined, “I help the marketing campaign to reinstate David O’Sullivan at Cricklewood. His unjust sacking reveals the best way all bus drivers had been handled in the course of the pandemic which was with full indifference and contempt by the bus corporations, significantly Metroline. All they’re inquisitive about is revenue and nothing else.

“Dave was preventing for the defence of bus drivers’ lives. He risked his personal job and stood up towards the corporate, to do their job, which the union didn’t do.

“In the start of the pandemic Metroline refused bus drivers face masks on the grounds that it might frighten passengers. Only later did they introduce the carrying of face masks for drivers coming into the storage and output space the place we signal on. Even primary PPE [personal protective equipment] was refused and when it grew to become accessible it was a battle on daily basis to request it.

“We as bus drivers labored all through the pandemic. We had no lockdown, we labored on a Sunday rota which in lots of instances was longer hours however based mostly on weekday pay charges, which meant a pay lower. Bus drivers who had been furloughed misplaced pay as a result of Metroline refused to high up the 80 p.c paid by the federal government.

“The pandemic has been used to successfully tear up our contracts. I didn’t enroll to work for weekday charges on weekends. But as a person in the event you refused to settle for these situations you’d be fired. The union shouldn’t have accepted this. You are denied your rights. The pandemic has not been a loss for the large companies reminiscent of Metroline—they’ve discovered a approach to make more cash at our expense. It has solely been the working class which has suffered.

“Even earlier than the pandemic struck, we had been preventing towards driver fatigue. This will need to have performed a task within the horrible lack of life by London bus drivers due to the COVID-19 virus. The union has completed nothing about these points. David’s battle is our battle towards these situations. Why do we now have to place our lives on the road simply to go to work? Why, when somebody raises primary well being and issues of safety, are they threatened with the lack of his livelihood?

“That is why I help the marketing campaign for David’s reinstatement and to proper this unsuitable that impacts all drivers. It is our primary proper to come to work in a secure setting. David’s defence have to be seen to change this current state of affairs.”

Visit right here to discover out extra and be part of the marketing campaign for David O’Sullivan’s reinstatement. You can donate to O’Sullivan’s authorized defence right here .

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