Socialist Worker

London bus dispute: Unite union is ready to call more strikes

Issue No. 2309

Unite activists protesting on Wednesday to demand an Olympic payment for bus workers (Pic: Smallman )

Unite activists protesting on Wednesday to demand an Olympic payment for bus workers (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The Unite union warned on Wednesday that it would call further strikes if London bus operators continue to refuse an Olympic payment for the capital’s bus workers.

Drivers, engineers, control staff and instructors across London struck on Friday of last week to demand £500 in compensation for increased workloads over the games period.

The strike was solid across 17 companies in London. But three operators—Arriva the Shires, Go Ahead London General and Metroline—blocked the strike at the last minute with a high court injunction.

Unite activists held protests this morning outside bus garages operated by the three companies, including Cricklewood, Stockwell and Tottenham. Some 33 services were halted during the morning rush hour.

The union will now reballot its 4,000 members at the three operators, the union announced today. That ballot is scheduled to end on 17 July. It will also appeal against the injunction.

Unite’s previous London-wide bus ballots saw over 90 percent voting to strike over the Olympic issue. The union has some 20,000 members on the city’s buses.

“Future strike action will be bigger and involve more bus workers,” said Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s London regional secretary. “TfL and the bus operators need to take their heads out of the sand and recognise the massive increase in work that bus workers will face during the games.”

Meanwhile the Community union today announced that its 220 members on the “Boris bike” cycle rental scheme will receive Olympic bonus payments of £500 each.

But the RMT union remains in dispute with Serco Barclays, which runs the bike scheme. “RMT is by far the biggest union on the Boris bikes,” said RMT general secretary Bob Crow. “There is no Olympics payment agreement for the vast majority of the Serco bikes staff.”

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