London 2012: Bus workers' bonus row is not going away

 
Bus workers disrupted buses from leaving a number of garages across the capital Bus workers disrupted buses from leaving a number of garages across the capital on Friday morning

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Now new dates for bus strikes in London have been announced for 5 and 24 July, the pressure will start to mount again to try to resolve it ahead of the first day of action next Thursday.

The Unite union wants the conciliation service Acas to host talks on Monday as 21,000 members push for an Olympics bonus of £500.

The union said as well as holding out for the bonus, it would seek an extra £100 for every day the workers go on strike.

At the same time there were demonstrations on Friday morning at some of the garages where workers were prevented from striking last week due to an injunction.

Again, on Thursday, Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy accused the union of not informing its members of the offer on the table.

I have spoken to many drivers, though, and most seem to know the detail.

The offer from the 17 bus companies is £17 per day for workers at depots where one or more routes are affected by the Olympics.

The union thinks this does not add up to £500 unless you work all 29 days and it leaves out too many people at quieter garages.

Grassroots level

London 2012 - One extraordinary year

London 2012 One extraordinary year graphic

What is key for the unions is how long it can keep solidarity if companies now start offering bonuses to individual garages.

What is also interesting is these demonstrations seem to be organised at a grassroots level by shop stewards and activists.

Unite union head office does not seem to know when they are happening. I was at one on Thursday at the launch of the new Thames cable car - which Unite headquarters did not know about.

They are perfectly legitimate peaceful protests and they show us that the anger amongst bus workers is still there. It has not diminished and probably won't.

It also shows that injunctions in court rarely resolve the issues causing the industrial problem. These workers obviously feel strongly enough to make their point even though they cannot strike.

However, Unite is trying to get the bus companies to Acas and some bus workers think the demonstrations are counter-productive.

The good news is the mayor's threat to remove the £8.3m extra money does not seem to have happened. That means at least there is something to talk about.

Next week expect talks and probably more injunctions.

But, the problem isn't going away.

 
Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 4.

    Muppet:bus drivers will not be doing their "normal" job - 10 hours driving with 30 mins break (unpaid) inbetween. Will you feel safe not knowing how long your driver has had to work when you get on the bus? The constant shift changes+ length of "normal" day is bad enough. No bonus or o/t rate for most. Suggest you find out more before you criticise.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 3.

    Senior people at TfL are getting thousands in bonuses for Olympics work, and almost all other transport workers have bonuses.

    As my mum always says "two wrongs don't make a right"

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 2.

    @MuppetAgain: Many people get bonuses for doing more difficult/higher-standard work. It's rarer at the 'bottom' of organisational hierarchies these days, as part of trends towards money and power accumulating at the top and falling unionisation, but it does happen. Senior people at TfL are getting thousands in bonuses for Olympics work, and almost all other transport workers have bonuses.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 1.

    As a Unite member (not bus driver) I am very disappointed that the union is undertaking this action. Why should anyone be paid extra for doing their normal job during the Olympics? Every single person who works or lives in London will face disruption and be inconvenienced. I don't see them demanding compensation.

 

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