Bus drivers paid below the London Living Wage have spoken out about how they feel “misled” and “cheated”.
In 2017 it was discovered some bus companies contracted out by Transport for London (TfL) were not paying some trainee drivers the London Living Wage, despite being contractually obliged to do so.
Although they took the issue up with their employers, TfL and the Mayor of London, many drivers say they have never been compensated.
Francis Deyo and Benson Craven trained as bus drivers with Arriva DB at West Norwood Garage in Lambeth from April to August 2017, but said they were not given their employment contracts until September 2017.
These contracts said that while training, drivers had been paid £273.60 for working 38 hours a week – £7.20 an hour.
The London Living Wage at the time was £9.75 an hour.
Mr Deyo, 35, said: “I was told the money was quite good, but I got into it and realised they didn’t pay the full money while training us. It happened to quite a few drivers.
“If I hadn’t got get free travel because of the training I would have had to sell my car because I wouldn’t have been able to pay the insurance for it. It’s madness.
“I felt cheated. If I had known I would be paid that from the beginning I wouldn’t have applied.”
Drivers were also made to sign a waiver once they qualified saying they would work more than 38 hours a week.
Mr Deyo said he now sometimes works eight or nine days in a row just to support his family.
But Mr Deyo, whose twin daughters Erin and Paige are eight, said he is still struggling to make ends meet.
He has recently had to cancel his daughters’ ballet lessons and cannot afford to take them on holiday.
Mr Deyo added: “As a parent you don’t want to let your children down. It’s been five years since I have been on holiday with my children.
“They have been asking to go on holiday and I just can’t afford it.”
Mr Craven, who now works as a full-time driver in Croydon, applied to work for Arriva DB “out of necessity” after taking voluntary redundancy from Greenwich Council in 2016.
He said: “I thought being a bus driver would provide me with an income and was a job where you were respected, but we are being paid like we work in a bar. Some drivers are just trying to feed their kids.
“Most of the drivers I know are incredibly cynical and feel completely jaded because of the way they have been treated.”
Mr Craven said he spoke to Arriva DB, TfL, the Mayor of London’s office and union Unite but felt no-one took his case seriously
He said: “We thought Sadiq Khan might be able to do drivers a favour but the mayor has done nothing.”
Unite regional officer John Murphy said trainees were not entitled to the London Living Wage before September 2017 and because Mr Craven did not stay in the bus garage he trained in when he became a full-time driver he was not entitled to claim the wage.
Claire Mann, TfL’s director of buses, said: “It is not acceptable for bus companies to pay anyone below the London Living Wage, including trainees.
“In April 2017 we wrote to all bus operators to confirm that trainee drivers should be receiving the London Living Wage, following reports that this was not happening in some cases.
“We continue to ask operators to confirm in writing that they are complying each year when the hourly rate is revised. We are discussing the issues the drivers have raised urgently with Arriva.”