13 Jul 2012

Lessons of the dispute over Olympic bonus

The bus bosses, transport for London (tfL) and Boris Johnson have been forced to sit up and take notice of London busworkers. The London-wide strike on 22 June and the threat of more action on 5 and 24 July forced them to make an improved offer. It comes despite previous claims that there was no money for an Olympic bonus for busworkers.
Busworkers will vote on the offer on Tuesday (17 July).
However the vote goes, one lesson has to be made clear—when the buses stop so does London. It’s strike action that has made progress on the Olympic bonus. Similar hard hitting action, could win more victories on pay and halt bosses attacks on conditions too.

Details of the offer
There’s talk of the Olympic bonus payment being paid per rostered duty completed. The figure being put around is £27.50 per duty. This would be a gross (before tax) payment. Apparently there could be some extra cash for workers from TfL’s 50/50 revenue split too.
A per duty payment would mean that what you actually get would depend on what you worked over the Olympics.
It’s worth remembering that DLR workers got £900, Network Rail got £500, Heathrow Express £700, London Overground £600 and Unite members on the tubes at least £850.
However the bonus is calculated— London busworkers should get as a minimum the £500 (plus £100 for strikers) the union demanded. 

More action is an option
If that’s not on offer then more action is an option. One strike got this far, couldn’t a second get all the way? The fact that the union has forced the employers to make a serious offer is a massive step forward, a real achievement by everyone involved. 

Whatever the result of next week’s ballot rank and file busworkers have to get organised to make sure the battle over bonuses is just the start of a wider war. A victory in the bonus fight should kick start a campaign by Unite against low pay and attacks on conditions.

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