Friday 22 June 2012

So far this week has been as uneventful as last but in transport-related news a large number of London’s 20000 bus drivers are on strike today over a bonus payment for the Olympics, something every other public transport worker in the capital is getting but they are not.

Unite have been trying to negotiate with London’s 21 private bus operators for months but they couldn’t even get them to meet to discuss matters. After he was re-elected Mayor Unite urged Boris to step in and settle the dispute but he turned down the request stating that as the bus drivers weren’t TfL employees this was between them and their employers. The bus companies countered that they paid a set fee to TfL to run the routes and that any additional staff costs should be covered by TfL. It is estimated that the bonus would cost between £12m and £14m.

With little alternative Unite balloted for a strike, on 9th June, a month after they’d asked Boris to step in, they announced the result to be 90% in favour and six days later they announced a strike for today. On Wednesday Boris announced that the ODA had suddenly found £8.3m to partly pay for the bonuses but that it would only be available if there was no strike.

Yesterday the unions went to ACAS to negotiate but apparently the bus companies failed to appear. With the strike still on Boris changed his tune, saying that the money would only be paid to drivers who worked on Friday and that the strike must be political driven by hard-line union militancy. Well he would, wouldn’t he.

So who should pay for the bonus? I would have thought that was obvious, whoever gets the extra revenue from the flood of passengers expected during the Olympics. If it’s split between the TfL and the bus companies then they should share the burden proportionally. Or am I being too logical

An interesting coincidence is that earlier this week TfL announced that the pointless cable car across the Thames at North Greenwich will open soon. When Boris first announced his plans for this he promised that it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a penny but when private finance failed to support the scheme he siphoned off £60m from TfL’s budget. So he’ll pay for a cable car the private sector thinks is not worth investmenting in but won’t pay for London’s bus drivers to deal with hordes of extra passengers.

One of Boris’s first acts as Mayor back in 2008 was to ban alcohol on the buses and Tubes which as you all know has been a complete and utter success.



  1. Maybe I'm not quite getting this then. Are you/Unite saying that the bus drivers should get more money because their buses will have more passengers than normal? Surely the driver can only do one thing at a time, either drive or pick up passengers.

    Or is it because they will be putting more hours in? This takes me back to my days on the Post Office counter when we were allowed to claim "Christmas Pressure" overtime as we were busy taking in more letters and parcels than normal. We didn't actually work for any extra hours but management in those days were easy to give in to avoid confrontation.

    So if they are asked to cover extra hours then fair enough (like you guys), if not then tough. I won't get any more if it takes me longer to get somewhere!

    1. The point as I understand it is that:
      * Bus drivers will be carrying more passengers than normal, and more of those passengers will have an inflexible deadline.
      * The roads will also be busier and, particularly where bus lanes have been usurped by games lanes (rightly or wrongly), this will make keeping to timetables harder.
      * Individually and together, these will put extra pressure on bus drivers compared to a normal working day.
      * Every other public transport worker in London is getting a bonus for working during the Olympics - even though some of them will not be affected as significantly as bus drivers.
      Therefore, bus drivers deserve a bonus at least equal to other public-transport workers.

      I happen to think they have a very good point and deserve treatment equal to other transport workers. I also agree with Mr Shrugged's opinion on who should pay for this bonus.