London bus workers ballot for strike action

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Members of the Unite trade union have voted to support an industrial action ballot over the failure of London’s bus operators to agree an Olympic payment.

According to Unite, the turn out was 49.6% in the consultative ballot, with more than nine out of 10 workers voting ‘Yes’.

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.

The union has however repeated its call for the employers to enter into talks to settle the issue, which would mean paying each bus worker an extra £500 for their work during the Olympics.

Unite claims the equivalent of over 9,000 double decker busloads of extra bus passengers will hit London for the Olympics.

Extra pressure has been put on TfL and London bus operators due to other transport providers agreeing to pay bonuses. London Underground will offer its staff an extra payment and a sum of at least £600 will be provided to TfL’s London Overground workers.

Meanwhile, Network Rail staff will receive £500, workers at Docklands Light Railway 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 February 29 to complete negotiations with the union to discuss an Olympic payment of £500. None of the operators has agreed to meet with the union, Unite claims.

Unite secretary Peter Kavanagh said: “Bus staff are the only transport workers not getting extra payment. It’s grossly unfair.”