Unite officials say ‘solid and commendable’ support for Olympic strike reflects depth of anger and frustration at operators’ refusal to grant bonus
(Pictured, Unite bus workers picket Tottenham bus garage)
Operators claimed up to 25% of services were operating. At one of the major north London depots, strikers said the figure in their area was nearer 3%.
The strike went ahead at scores of garages and depots across the capital, despite a High Court injunction yesterday which outlawed industrial action at three of the major operators.
The ruling came just hours after the failure of talks convened by the conciliation service, Acas, to agree a settlement over Unite’s claim for a £500 bonus for all bus workers in the capital.
Bus drivers are among some of the lowest-paid transport workers in London and say they cannot understand why they are being told they do not deserve an extra payment for their extra work.
“We play a major part in the transport industry in London. We carry more people on the buses than the Overground [rail service] and yet the Overground drivers have been given extra money.”
Unite says it will challenge the High Court’s ruling after the full judgement is released next week.
Activists have warned of further industrial action leading up to, and during the games if the operators continue to refuse to award the bus workers the bonuses they are asking for.
Most other transport workers are due to receive bonuses of between £500 and £900 to cover the expected sharp spike in workload during the period of the games and the Paralympics, from late-July to September.
Unite estimates it would cost £14m to fund bonus payments for all bus workers.
Prior to the abortive Acas talks, London Mayor Boris Johnson had ordered the release of £8.3m to help fund bonus payments.
Unite says the 21 operators and Transport of London [TfL] refused to fund the remaining £6.7m which could have prevented the strike going ahead.
The strike continues until 3.00am tomorrow.
Unite London regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh, said: ”Support for today’s strike action is solid and shows that bus workers are willing to stand shoulder to shoulder to get the recognition they deserve in keeping London moving during the Olympics.
“Today’s strike comes as bus operators hide behind an anti-democratic court injunction and refuse to settle the dispute.
“We will fight to get the injunction overturned and further action will be bigger if TfL and the bus operators continue to bury their head in the sand.
“The strike should be a wake up call to the bus companies and TfL.
“They now need to negotiate meaningfully about rewarding bus workers for the massive increase in workload they will face over the Olympics.”
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