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London buses to come to a standstill over Olympic award warns Unite

17/06/2012

London buses will come to a standstill on Friday 22 June as bus workers from every London bus operator will take strike action across the capital for the first time in a generation.

The strike action is over London’s bus operators’ refusal to recognise the ‘massive increase’ in workload for their workers during the Olympic Games. The workers will take strike action for one shift. Disruption will begin on the first shift on Friday 22 June around 3.00am and will finish at the end of the night shift on Saturday 23 June.

Unless the bus operators act Unite will call further strikes up to and during the Olympic Games. The last London wide bus strike took place in 1982. The walkout was in solidarity with nurses.

Bus workers are the only London transport workers not receiving an award for their extra effort during the Olympic Games. A recent survey of almost 3000 London transport passengers conducted by independent researchers for Unite, revealed that almost nine out of ten back the bus workers’ call for an Olympic payment. Unite says for the 29 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games the £500 is worth just £17.24 a day. A pint of beer at the Olympics will cost £7.23.

The latest Transport for London (TfL) accounts for the full financial year 2011/12 show a budget surplus of £759 million. The London Olympics is set to come in under its £9.3 billion budget with £476 million of the contingency funding left, according to new government figures. Bus workers are asking for an award of £500 net at a cost of just £14 million.

Olympic awards have already been agreed for the following workers:

  • Heathrow Express workers: £700
  • Network Rail: £500
  • Docklands Light Railway: £900
  • Virgin Rail: £500
  • London Overground: £600
  • London Underground: At least £850
  • BAA staff, up to £1,200

According to TfL’s annual report the top seven staff at the organisation are in line to cash in on two years of annual bonuses worth £560,000 which equates to £80,000 each if the system runs smoothly during the Olympic Games.

Unite regional secretary for London, Peter Kavanagh, said:

“London buses will come to a standstill for the first time in a generation across London on 22 June. The blame lies squarely with the bus operators and TfL. The bus companies haven’t met with Unite once to discuss bus workers’ extra contribution to the Olympic games and TfL has refused to intervene.

“This dispute could be resolved at a stroke but if the bus companies and TfL continue to do nothing Unite will call further strikes up to and during the Olympic Games.

“Bus workers are on the frontline of London’s transport system dealing with millions of passengers yet all TfL has done so far is insult them. TfL’s Leon Daniels, who earns £234,000, accused bus workers of being ‘reprehensible’ even though he himself is in line for a £80,000 bonus tied to the Olympics.

“There is no moral or economic justification for treating bus workers like second class citizens. There is a clear precedent for rewarding bus workers for keeping London moving over the Olympics.”

Last Friday (8 June) over 20,000 members of Unite working for 20 London bus operators, including Go Ahead, Stagecoach, London United, Arriva, Metroline, First and Abellio backed strike action by an average of 94 per cent. Turnouts across the operators averaged 38 per cent (see notes to editors) the same percentage turnout that saw Boris Johnson re-elected as mayor of London.

The bus companies were given a final opportunity to consider the massive vote in favour of strike action but have continued to refuse to make a single attempt to resolve the dispute.

At least 800,000 extra passengers are predicted to use London’s iconic red buses during the Olympics.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has had since September 2011 to meet with Unite to discuss the vital role London’s bus workers will play during the Olympics. The union has written to Boris Johnson twice (see notes to editors) but he has washed his hands of responsibility, wrongly claiming that he and TfL could not get involved.

For 2010/11 revenue from the buses was £1.3 billion, an 8 per cent year on year increase.

The average salary of a London bus driver is £28,600 while TfL’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, earns £234,906.

 

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