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.