Bus Drivers Anthem

11th February 2015  |  News

Last Wednesday, 5 February 2014, saw the first of a series of three bus strikes a campaign organised by Unite Union over London bus worker’s pay. The strike was launched to address the ‘glaringly unfair’ payment system that allows for 80 different rates to be paid to drivers carrying out the same job. However this is not the first strike London bus drivers have implemented this year, their campaign follows from a one-day strike that took place in London on the 13 January 2015. With a total of four bus strikes taking place in the first two months of the year, could this action be seen as excessive?

The London regional officer for Unite, Wayne King has defended their actions with the following statement: “Strike action is not a step our members take lightly, but bus workers who keep London moving 24 hours a day, seven days a week, have had enough of pay inequality and unfair pay disparities”. It is clear that the claimants and organisers of the campaign have thought considerably about their social movement repertoire to decide on an appropriate means of political action.

Vera Taylor and Nella van Dyke, two social theorists that comment on the methodical tactics used in social movement repertoires assert that contentious campaigns have to think logically about their protest tactics. (Taylor and van Dyke,2005, p.263) Disruptive tactics such as boycotts, labelled by Taylor and van Dyke as outsider tactics, have to be given great consideration by the claim makers because of the knock on effect they have on the general public which could hinder support for the campaign. (Taylor and van Dyke,2005, p.267) Vera Taylor and Nella van Dyke, also highlight how protest can be carried out in numerous ways and take on a cultural form, for example through music. (Taylor and van Dyke, 2005,p.263)

Below is a video produced for the first strike on 13 January 2015 which can be seen as contentious art with cultural capital. The song is sung by a bus driver known as ‘Mikey Bashment’ and shows a group of bus drivers based in Camberwell, South-East London supporting the union’s decision to launch the strike against the London bus operators.


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