Unite sets new strike dates as London bus operators try a dangerous game of ‘brinkmanship’

Thousands of London bus workers will take strike action next Thursday 5 July followed by action on Tuesday 24 July in a dispute over London bus operators' continued refusal to recognise their workers' extra effort over the Olympics with a £500 Olympic award.

Unite accused the bus operators of playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship, pushing action closer towards the Games. With just 29 days to go to the Olympics, the union called on the operators to join it for talks on Monday at Acas. The operators which have collectively posted over £2 billion in profits, have yet to confirm their presence at the negotiating table.

The union has confirmed it will re-ballot its members at Metroline, Arriva the Shires and Go Ahead London General who were prevented from taking strike action last Friday because of a High Court injunction. Voting among 4,000 bus workers is expected to start next Wednesday 4 July and finish on Tuesday 17 July meaning action on 24 July could lead to a total standstill of bus services across London, just three days before the Olympic Games.

Unite regional secretary, Peter Kavanagh, said:

"Strike action is being pushed closer and closer towards the Olympics because bus companies, supported by the Tory mayor seem to think it's acceptable to try a dangerous game of brinkmanship.

"Unite will be at Acas next Monday ready to meet with the bus operators. This dispute could be resolved at a stroke if the operators negotiate meaningfully. Instead it looks like a coordinated attack, orchestrated by the Tory mayor, looking for a political fight with Unite and London's bus workers. Even 'Boris bike' workers are getting a £500 Olympic award. There is no justification to ignoring the massive increase in workload bus workers face. They will be on the frontline, keeping London moving during the Games."

"Last week's action was extremely well supported and workers are getting angrier by the day – there will be no retreat. Bus services could come to a total standstill just days before the Olympics if bus operators continue to turn their backs on their workers.

Every other London transport worker in London is receiving an award to recognise their extra effort over the Olympics. Olympic awards have already been agreed for the following workers:

Heathrow Express workers: £700
Network Rail: £500
Docklands Light Railway: £900
Virgin Rail: £500
London Overground: £600
London Underground: At least £850
BAA staff: up to £1,200
London Underground maintenance workers at Tube Lines: £850
London Overground maintenance workers employed by Bombardier: £650
Workers at the mayor of London's bike scheme: £500

The latest TfL accounts for the full financial year 2011/12 show a budget surplus of £759 million. The London Olympics is set to come in under its £9.3 billion budget with £476 million of the contingency funding left, according to new government figures.

Contact: Ciaran Naidoo on 07768 931 315