Thousands of London bus workers have voted to go on strike over extra payments for working during the Olympic Games.
94% of those that voted in the Unite ballot have backed industrial action and dates could be announced as early as next week – which could be before or even during the London 2012 Olympics.
Unite wants a one off payment of £500 for its 20,000 bus drivers who are now the only public transport workers not getting a London 2012 bonus this summer after deals were done with London Underground, Overground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) staff.
At least 800,000 extra passengers are predicted to use London’s red buses during the Games which start next month.
Unite says its now giving the 21 London bus operators, including Go Ahead, Stagecoach, London United, Arriva, Metroline, First and Abellio and Transport for London a final opportunity to consider this ‘landslide’ result in favour of strike action before the union announces possible strike dates early next week.
Unite regional secretary for London, Peter Kavanagh, said “There are only seven weeks until the Olympics and the whole world is watching London. It’s a disgrace that London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, and the bus companies have allowed this dispute to get this far. “Our members are only asking for an extra £17 a day which will just about buy you a pint of beer and a portion of fish and chips at the Olympics. “Our members want the Games to be a success but their patience has run out. We have given TfL and the bus operators almost a year to resolve this issue. Every single London transport worker in London will receive a reward to recognise their major contribution to this historic occasion except for London’s bus workers.”
Turnouts across the bus operators averaged 38 per cent – the same percentage turnout that saw Boris Johnson re-elected as Mayor of London.
Transport for London claims the dispute is nothing to do with them as the workers are employed by private companies, but Unite says this is passing the buck: “TfL and the operators can easily get together to resolve this matter and each of them is passing the buck to the other,” says Peter Kavanagh.
The London region of Unite will be seeking support from every region and section of the union, and throughout the trade union movement, for this crucial dispute. Shiraz Socialist will keep you informed.