Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Bus strike causes major disruption

London bus staff are going ahead with strike action
London Mayor Boris Johnson

London bus workers have gone ahead with a strike in a dispute over an Olympic bonus, halting three out of four services.

Commuters and tourists faced a day of disruption because of the 24-hour walkout by thousands of members of Unite at 17 bus companies in pursuit of a £500 payment for working during the Games.

Transport for London said around 24% of services were running, with disruption on many routes. Bus passengers were urged to walk or cycle if possible or switch to other forms of transport.

The action went ahead even though three companies - Arriva, Metroline and London General - were granted an injunction in the High Court on Thursday by Mr Justice Supperstone preventing Unite members they employ from going on strike.

Hopes had been raised that the strike could be averted after London mayor Boris Johnson announced that £8.3 million was available for bus companies to pay a bonus, but talks at the conciliation service Acas ended without agreement.

Mr Johnson said: "I am saddened, disappointed and enormously frustrated that despite brokering £8.3 million of funding, union leaders and the private bus companies have failed to reach agreement, and as a result it looks likely that Londoners will face unnecessary and needless disruption."

Transport commissioner Peter Hendy said: "It is now clear that the leadership of Unite were intent on a strike all along. They have pursued this unnecessary course of action despite an extra £8.3 million being brokered by the mayor that would allow every bus driver in London in a garage where one or more routes were affected by the 2012 Games to gain, over the 29 days of the competitions, about £500."

Unite London regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: "Bus workers across the vast majority of London's bus network will be on strike. This comes despite an injunction which was given without any proper explanation. It begs the question of whether the court has come under any external pressure in making the ruling.

"Granting an injunction in the face of a massive vote for strike action is an affront to democracy. We are fast becoming a country where justice rules in favour of big business and tramples on the rights of ordinary working men and women. We will appeal this anti-democratic decision. It will only serve to deepen the resolve of London bus workers.

"The failure by the bus companies to negotiate seriously and their desire to run to the courts will only heighten tensions. The decision by these three bus companies runs contrary to the mayor's call to pay London bus workers an Olympic bonus."

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