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Capitalism to an economist means a mechanism of wealth creation and distribution, whereas a layman’s interpretation of the word is how the workers in this world get ‘screwed’ by the rich employers – strange, eh? Or is it just a strange case of Homographs?

The London Bus drivers are an unusual breed. The workers in this industry come from a vastly different range of backgrounds. Some have been in this industry since they left school, which could have been 30 years ago and many, have more recently, come from several other professions in the recent years, as job markets have changed with recession in our economy leading to redundancies in many sectors. The privatisation of the bus industry and much of the transport sector had opened many lucrative opportunities for individuals with the right business approach, because of the huge subsidies and opportunities to return massive profits for their shareholders. The controls and monitoring of performance of the privatised industry were poor for almost the first 20-25 years, leading to most profits made by such companies in this period. Hence we saw the proliferation of many European companies enter the UK transport sector because of the huge potential profit margins with little control. While the economy was strong and companies made eye-watering profits, the workers were also enjoying above-average wages and reaping rewards of a newly privatised industry in its infancy, while the darker forces of capitalism slowly gathered force.

Slightly tighter controls by the public bodies like TfL (Transport For London) and use of technology to monitor the performances of these privatised companies began to take place in the mid-noughties and they suddenly, began to feel the mild squeeze on their, earlier easily derived, profits. The bosses could not suddenly let their life-styles suffer. Hence, came the onslaught on workers’ terms and conditions and pay scales. With pretty blatant collusion with the unions, the old pay structures were slashed and new terms and conditions imposed on drivers and an ever increasing pressure on established drivers with implied fear of job loss if they fail to comply, despite the fact the employers needed these drivers to keep the services running. The recent recession had provided the employers with an endless stream of new applicants willing to do the job despite the increasing imbalance between the working hours/pay/terms. The older established drivers fear losing their jobs for the slightest misdemeanour, because of increasingly punitive approach by company managers, who are under increasing pressure from the bosses due to their own amended work contracts. The companies try to extract every extra minute out of the drivers that the extremities of the ‘Driving Hours’ law provides them, with no regard to health and safety of the employees.

Direct impact on drivers


Drivers are their own worst enemy!


Unions are nowhere to be seen while this onslaught is causing a severe deterioration in the job pay and conditions of all bus drivers across the capital.  This is the epitome of the dark side of Capitalism, when profit making takes a higher position than anything else – including health and well-being of the workers, and also, indirectly, the business customers.  Without being an alarmist – Imagine what a tired and frustrated bus driver can end up doing!

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