Socialist Worker

London's bus workers to ballot for Olympic strikes

by Anindya Bhattacharyya
Issue No. 2303

Bus workers on strike in 2009 in east London  (Pic: http://www.guysmallman.com/Guy Smallman )

Bus workers on strike in 2009 in east London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Over 20,000 bus workers at 21 London operators are set to be balloted for industrial action from Thursday of this week in a dispute over Olympic bonus payments.

The Unite union is demanding a £500 bonus for bus workers in recognition of their hugely increased workload over the Olympic period.

Ballot results are expected early next month.

It is predicted that some 800,000 extra passengers will use London’s buses during the games.

Other transport workers in London have negotiated bonuses, but the capital’s bus companies refuse to talk to Unite.

“If bus workers take strike action in the run up to and during the Olympics, it will be because Boris Johnson and the bus companies failed in their duty to London,” said Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s regional secretary for London.

Bus workers have welcomed the union’s move to a ballot.

“Everybody’s behind it 100 percent,” Robert Laird, Unite rep at Edgware bus garage, told Socialist Worker.

“The Olympic bonus issue has become a shuttlecock,” he added. “Transport for London says we should talk to the bus operators—and they say talk to TfL. It’s been like that for some time. This ballot should break that impasse.”

Unite is planning a series of bus tours across London to publicise the ballot and encourage a yes vote.

The first sets off from Holborn in central London on Wednesday morning this week to tour south London.

The bus operators facing strike ballots include Abelio, Arriva, First, Go Ahead, London United, Metroline and Stagecoach.

Together these account for 95 percent of London bus services.

Meanwhile Unite members on the London Underground have voted four to one to accept an Olympic bonus deal that awards them £850 each.

Unite represents engineers, electrical workers and management grades on the tube.

The RMT union is still negotiating with London Underground bosses over the Olympic bonus issue.

Olympic bonuses that have already been agreed include £500 for Network Rail workers, £900 for Docklands Light Railway workers, £500 at Virgin Rail and £600 at London Overground.


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News
Tue 15 May 2012, 16:57 BST
Issue No. 2303
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