War of words escalates between Unite and London transport bosses over bus drivers’ demands for £500 Olympics bonus


A war of words has escalated between union officials and London transport bosses over bus drivers’ demands for a £500 bonus during the Olympic games, which start next month.

Unite represents around 20,000 bus workers in the capital. They are the only London transport workers who are not receiving an additional pay award during the Games.

Unite has accused Transport for London (TfL) of ‘barefaced hypocrisy’ following revelations that senior TfL executives are in line to earn Olympic bonuses 160 times more than the award bus workers are demanding.

The union says TfL’s unaudited annual report shows 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.

On Saturday, Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, who earns a basic salary of £234,000, condemned bus workers whose average salary is £26,000, for asking for an Olympic award.

In previous years, TfL has highlighted its decision not to pay executive bonuses in contrast with Network Rail, which paid out £2 million in bonuses in 2010.

Bus workers are demanding a bonus payment in line with those being awarded to rail and London Underground workers, in recognition of the anticipated increase in workload during the Games.

Unite has been urging TfL to intervene since September 2011 to persuade London’s bus operators to meet with Unite.

Officials say TfL has refused at every turn to help resolve this dispute.

Bus workers last week voted by 94% for industrial action. Unite says it is now giving the bus companies a final opportunity to make an offer before it decides whether to announce strike dates.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary for London, said: “This is barefaced hypocrisy of the highest order.

“These revelations will infuriate our members and serve to strengthen their resolve to fight for fairness.”

TfL describes Unite’s claim as ‘spurious and inaccurate’ and denies executives are due to receive a performance bonus for the Olympics.

However, Peter Kavanagh says: “TfL has done nothing to help get the bus companies around the table to resolve this dispute.

“Since September last year TfL has consistently refused to get involved. All TfL can do is condemn workers asking for a fair award for the massive increase in workload that they will face during this historic occasion.”

For 2010/11, revenue for TfL from the buses was £1.3bn – an 8% year-on-year increase.

In contrast, according to Unite, bus workers have endured pay freezes and below inflation increases over the last few years.

2.3 billion bus journeys were taken in 2011/12 the highest since 1959. Half of all bus journeys taken in England are taken in London.

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