Bus strike in London today heaps misery on commuters

July 13th, 2012

Commuters endured a miserable journey in to work on Friday morning as a strike by bus workers hit around two thirds of services in London.

Thousands of bus workers who are members of the Unite union are holding a 24-hour walkout in a dispute over a £500 payment for working through the Olympic Games. Workers at 17 bus companies are on strike, causing disruption to commuters and tourists alike.

Transport for London (TfL) said more than a third of bus services are in operation, but many routes have been disrupted.

People thinking of taking the bus were urged to walk of cycle if possible, or use another form of transport.

The strike action is taking place despite three bus companies being granted a High Court injunction. mr Justice Supperstone’s ruling prevented Unite members at Arriva, London General and Metroline from taking strike action.

There was hope the strike could be avoided after mayor of London Boris Johnson said £8.3m had been made available for bus firms to pay a bonus, but talks at conciliation service Acas on Thursday failed to yield an agreement.

Johnson said: “I am saddened, disappointed and enormously frustrated that despite brokering £8.3m 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.”

Peter Hendy, the transport commissioner, 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 £8.3m 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.

“Despite additional offers to supplement this from the bus companies, the Unite leadership have refused to defer the strike to give time for further negotiations or for any of the offers to be put to their members.”

Unite said picket lines have been put in place at depots around London and claimed the strike was being “extremely well supported”.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite’s London regional secretary, 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.”

He added: “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.”

Bus strike in London today heaps misery on commuters

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