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The threat of a bus strike over the Olympics has been averted by the agreement of a Games-time bonus for London’s bus workers.
Members of the Unite union voted by a 71 per cent majority to accept an average £577 incentive payment for working during London 2012.
This will comprise a £27.50 payment each time a bus worker completes a shift over the 29 days of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Unite said that the average employee would complete 21 shifts, resulting in an award of £577.
A revenue-sharing element of the deal has also been agreed with Transport for London (TfL), which will give the capital’s 24,000 bus workers a 50 per cent split of the increased fare revenue generated in the Olympic period.
Union members’ acceptance of the new offer follows six days of Acas-brokered negotiations between Unite and London’s 20 bus companies. A previous stand off between the two parties sparked a one-day walkout by staff on 22 June, which affected a third of the capital’s bus routes.
TfL had been reluctant to intervene in what it described as a pay dispute with private bus operators. The Mayor of London eventually stepped in to secure £8.3 million from the Olympic Delivery Authority, which will part-fund the bonus payments.
“After almost a year-long campaign, bus workers finally have a fair deal which recognises their contribution to keeping London moving over the Olympics,” said Peter Kavanagh, Unite's regional secretary for London.“Strike action is always a last resort but for those who say it achieves nothing we say just look at London’s bus workers. They would have been offered nothing by their employers and TfL would have done nothing unless bus workers took action to force them round the negotiating table.”
TfL said that it welcomed the resolution of the row. The organisation’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, reiterated that the pay of bus workers remained a matter between them and the private bus operating companies that employed them.
“However in this case,” he said, “as the capital prepares to celebrate the biggest festival of sport and culture it has ever seen, TfL and the mayor sought to bring Unite and the bus companies together and we are pleased that they have now resolved this dispute.”
Tube and rail workers in London have already agreed Olympic bonuses ranging from £500 to £2,500.