Thousands of bus drivers in London are intending to go on strike for twenty-four hours on June 22 in a dispute over pay during the London 2012 Olympics. The action is being organized by the Unite union.
London city bus drivers are set to take their first co-ordinated industrial action since 1982. The action takes the form of a one-day strike, that is set to begin on June 22 at 3 a.m. and will end at the same time the following day, according to the Daily Telegraph. This follows a recent ballot where 94% of the drivers who voted supported the action (from a turn-out of 38%).
The dispute with the London bus companies has arisen over bonus payments during the London 2012 Olympics. The drivers are asking, as Sky News reports, for an additional, one-off payment of £500 (around $785), which equates to an additional extra £17 (around $27) each day during the duration of the London Games. The call for the additional payment has been made by the trade union which organizes the drivers, the Unite union, which is the UK's largest trade union.
The drivers are asking for the money due to the extra work which will arise during the Olympics, which is mainly a product of increased traffic congestion. The union has estimated, as Metro reports, that an extra 800,000 passengers will use London buses throughout the duration of the Olympics
The drivers have also noted that other transport workers have received additional hardship payments for work to be undertaken during the Olympic Games, such as train and metro (London Underground) drivers.
The body responsible for coordinating travel across London, Transport for London (TfL), has said that the dispute is a matter for the individual bus companies. However, the body which is run by the Conservative Mayor of London Boris Johnson, quoted by the BBC, has called the action "reprehensible" due to the potential disruption it will cause to workers across the UK capital.
The Financial Times, however, notes that TfL executives have recently been awarded annual bonuses worth £80,000 (about $127,000) a year on average, to be paid over the next two years, if the transport during the Olympics runs efficiently.
Emphasizing the seriousness of the dispute, Peter Kavanagh, a representative of the union, is quoted by the Guardian as saying "If the bus companies and TfL continue to do nothing Unite will call further strikes up to and during the Olympic Games."