Unite members want the same special payment as other transport workers in the capital

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London bus workers have overwhelmingly voted to support an industrial action ballot over the failure of London’s bus operators to agree an Olympic payment.

With more than nine out of ten workers voting ‘Yes’ in the consultative ballot, Unite, which represents 24,000 bus workers, is now preparing to formally ballot its members working for 15 London bus operators for strike action or industrial action short of a strike.

However, Unite repeated its call for the employers to enter into genuine talks to settle this issue, so that the Olympics – the first in the UK since 1948 – are a resounding success.

The union has called for a £500 payment to recognise and reward bus workers for the massive increase in workloads during the Olympics.

Unite warned that the equivalent of over 9,000 double decker busloads of extra bus passengers will descend on London for the Olympics which will run from 27 July to 12 August, putting a massive strain on London bus workers. The Paralympics run from 29 August – 9 September.

TfL has already recognised that bus workers will be on the frontline. Yet, with only a few months left until the Olympics, neither the bus operators nor TfL have engaged with the unions to plan for the Games or discuss a payment similar to which other London transport workers will receive.

TfL gave the all clear for London Underground to offer its staff an Olympic payment and an offer of at least £600 has been accepted by workers at TfL’s London Overground.

Workers at Network Rail will get £500, Docklands Light Railway staff will get £900, plus guaranteed overtime at enhanced rates and Virgin Rail has agreed a £500 Olympic payment.

Unite wrote to London bus operators in December 2011, giving them a deadline of 29 February, to complete negotiations with the union to discuss an Olympic payment of £500. With the deadline passed, every operator has refused to even agree to meet with the union.

Unite regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: “Bus workers have voted to overwhelmingly support an industrial action ballot. The London bus is an iconic symbol for London and bus workers will be on the frontline dealing with the extra congestion and helping passengers find their way around London.

“Despite the significant extra pressure, the operators are refusing to recognise the contribution bus workers will be making to the success of the Olympics.

“Every other transport worker in London is getting a payment, with the exception of the bus workers. London bus operators are doing passengers and their workers a huge disservice by refusing to engage with the union. It is a massive error of judgement.”

The turn out was 49.6 per cent.


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