Bus workers in London were set to strike again on Thursday of this week to demand that bosses award them an Olympic payment.
The new strike follows a successful London-wide strike by drivers, engineers, control staff and instructors last month.
The workers’ Unite union was in talks as Socialist Worker went to press. “The last action was extremely well supported and workers are getting angrier by the day,” said Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s London regional secretary.
“There will be no retreat. Bus services could come to a total standstill just days before the Olympics if bus operators continue to turn their backs on their workers.”
The bus drivers are demanding a £500 bonus payment in compensation for the expected huge rise in workload over the Olympics period.
Most other transport workers in London have negotiated awards ranging between £500 and £900—but London’s 20 private bus operators and Transport for London are refusing to do the same for bus workers.
Bus workers are in a confident mood after the success of the last strike. “The strike was solid—it was fantastic,” Steve O’Rourke, chair of Unite’s London bus drivers, told Socialist Worker.
“It had the largest picket lines we’ve ever seen, and it was the first time since privatisation that workers across London had come out together.” A further strike is planned for Tuesday 24 July.
The union is also reballoting staff at three operators—Arriva the Shires, Go Ahead London General and Metroline—who blocked the last strike through a high court injunction.
That new ballot ends on 17 July—allowing the 4,000 workers affected to join the 24 July strike by their 17,000 colleagues should they vote for action.
Unite activists also organised blockades at the firms that got the injunction, disrupting at least 40 bus routes.
Steve added, “It hasn’t been easy to organise—there are so many different companies and different grades of worker that companies try to play off against each other.
“But these greedy corporate bastards are not going to beat us. If they drag it out until after the Olympics, we’ll still come out.”
New rail ballot for Olympic bonus
Rail unions are balloting their members over Olympics pay. Workers in the RMT union at South West Trains, Greater Anglia and First Great Western will start voting in the ballot this week. Strikes could hit the Olympics.