Unite strike in spite of Johnson offer

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Boris Johnson condemned the strike as “disgraceful” after offering enough cash to cover Unite demands for all London bus workers affected by the Olympics
Boris Johnson condemned the
strike as “disgraceful” after
offering enough cash to cover
Unite demands for all London bus
workers affected by the Olympics

Despite the offer of a financial package of £8.3m, on Friday, June 22, two-thirds of bus services in London failed to run, provoking a furious reaction from Boris Johnson and many Londoners.

Unite said support for the 24- hour stoppage among its members at 17 operators was solid, warning further strikes would be bigger.

Mayor Johnson said it was “disgraceful” the offer he brokered for bus workers was not put to union members. The sum was sufficient to give all drivers at each depot with one or more routes affected by the Olympics the £500 bonus Unite has been demanding.

He said: “This is an absolute dereliction of duty by union leaders and Londoners have faced unnecessary disruption.

“Many bus staff who defied the strike will be working hard during the Games with no extra pay. They will believe this offer is more than fair and find it difficult to understand why this strike action could not have been postponed.

“Militant union leaders failed to bring London to a standstill. I thank those drivers who turned out, enabling us to run a third of services across the morning period.

“I feel sorry for drivers currently sitting at home wondering whether to come in for their shifts and who face losing a day’s pay for striking yet still don’t know what was offered to them. I hope more of them choose to come into work, recognising the offer made to resolve this dispute.”

Unite vowed to appeal against a High Court injunction granted to three operators which prevented its members from joining the walkout.

London Regional Secretary Peter Kavanagh said: “Support for today’s strike action is solid and shows 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 antidemocratic 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 heads in the sand.

“The strike should be a wakeup 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.”

Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said: “It is now clear the leadership of Unite was intent on a strike all along. They pursued this unnecessary course of action despite an extra £8.3m being brokered by the Mayor which would allow drivers in London from garages where one or more routes are affected by the 2012 Games to gain, over the 29 days of the competitions, about £500.”