Remote sign on procedures provoke union anger

6 April 2021

Representing over 20,000 bus workers in London, Unite the union has strongly welcomed a decision by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to order a moratorium on bus operators in the capital introducing remote sign on procedures.

Remote sign on means drivers do not report to a depot to start work but meet their bus and begin work at an alternative location such as a bus stop.

By forcing drivers to start work away from the depot, the union argues, costs are reduced and the company's profits boosted but the drivers suffer as they are only paid for the period when they are driving their vehicles.

Unite has calculated that the introduction of remote sign on will equate to an immediate 7% cut in wages on average for affected workers. It also notes that, if a bus is delayed, the driver is left unpaid and in the open for considerable lengths of time in all weathers, increasing issues of tiredness and fatigue.

There is no benefit to passengers, the union points out, and remote sign on may even be to their detriment if a driver is delayed or unable to sign on remotely.

Facing the possibility of London-wide strike action over bus operators being able to move towards a remote sign on model when bidding for routes, Mr Khan instructed the board at Transport for London (TfL) to introduce an immediate moratorium.

This will not be lifted until detailed research into remote sign on is completed. Unite has been promised full input into the development of the report.

Unite lead officer for London buses, John Murphy, said: “This is excellent news. The moratorium on introducing remote sign on heads off the immediate threat of strike action across London. London bus workers, who were clapped as heroes and who saw too many of their colleagues die of Covid, are not prepared to see their pay slashed in real terms.”