Bus strike hits London over Olympic pay
22 June 2012
A bus strike has hit London, with thousands of transit employees walking out over a dispute regarding payment during the Olympics.
Unite union members, representing around 85% of bus workers in London, are staging 24 hours of industrial action over their lack of a bonus for working during the 2012 Games. Rail employees on the Tube, DLR and London Overground are set to receive a £500 payment during this period, but their counterparts on the buses have thus far had no such luck.
Employees of three bus operators – Arriva, Metroline and Go Ahead – have been barred from the walkout due to a court injunction, and Transport for London claims that over a third of bus routes are still in operation.
Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s regional secretary, has challenged the bus companies to “step up and play their part”, stating that “bus operators have posted billions in profits but they are refusing to enter into genuine and timely negotiations with Unite despite being ordered to by the mayor of London”.
And he warned that failure to reach an agreement with employees would “inevitably” mean further strikes taking place during the Olympics.
London mayor Boris Johnson has managed to secure £8.3m from the Olympic Delivery Authority to put towards the bonuses, but the remaining £6m required from the organisation, TfL and the bus companies has so far not been forthcoming. Johnson was critical of the union, accusing leaders of being “hell-bent on strike action”, and stating that “money is on the table” but that the offer was conditional on drivers not walking out.
And the transport commissioner for London, Peter Hendry, slammed what he referred to as an “unnecessary course of action”, saying: “Despite additional offers to supplement this from the bus companies, the Unite leadership have refused to defer the strike to give time for further negotiations or for any of the offers to be put to their members. I'm sorry that Londoners are therefore going to be disrupted.”
The strike began at 3am and will continue until 3am tomorrow.