Tube Bonus Payout Rejected by Unions as ‘not being enough’

March 15, 2012

Tube bonus payments of up to £850 to staff working extra time during the Olympics have been rejected as ‘not being enough’.

Unite the Union, which represents hundreds of maintenance workers, says the offer has too many strings attached. Also the threat of strike action by 28,000 London bus staff over bonus payments increases today.

Rejection of the £850 offer is a huge blow to London Underground (LU) bosses who thought the payments would see an end to the long run row over Olympic bonuses.

Unite has also threatened strike action for London’s 28,000 bus staff unless they get £500 each, but bus operators have not yet offered anything.

John Morgan-Evans, Unite regional officer, said: “Unite was prepared to accept the deal, but the strings attached are totally unacceptable. It would be irresponsible to accept this deal as it would put our members’ health and safety at risk.

“Our members have been asked to agree to limitless changes to hours and place of work at short notice, not only during the games but for an undefined and potentially indefinite period after the games are over.

“We can’t give LU a free hand to make such changes outside of the normal processes of negotiation. This has never been just about reward. It is also about protecting the health and family life of our members.”

The RMT, which represents the vast majority of staff, is still considering the £850 offer.

A spokesman said: “Our LU representatives are in negotiations with members and our executive committee will make a decision in due course.”

Bob Crow, the RMT leader, had already turned down a £500-a-time bonus as not being enough.

Under a separate deal train drivers have agreed bonuses of between £800 and £1200.

Senior sources said Transport for London (TfL) had “little option”, with time running out to the Games, but to agree the deal.

“TfL was under huge pressure and the unions held all the trump cards, the last thing wanted at this stage was even a threat of strikes in the run up to or during the Games,” said one.

Howard Collins, LU Chief Operating Officer, said: “We have put forward an offer which would see station, maintenance, service control staff and operational managers receive up to £850 for working flexibly during the 2012 London Games, subject to attendance, customer satisfaction scores and agreement from operational staff to work flexibly in order to deliver a successful Games.

“In return we are asking staff to work longer hours at different times of the day, to be prepared to work extra hours and to be more flexible in how and where they carry out their role for us during these crucial weeks. We know our employees want to play their part in delivering a great Games for London, so reaching agreement on this will allow all of us to focus on that exciting challenge together.”

The unions have already used their industrial muscle to force through other huge Olympic bonuses. These include up to £2,500 for staff working on the Docklands Light Railway, up to £900 for London Overground (TfL) drivers and £500 for Virgin Trains and Network Rail employees.

Unite will be balloting its members on 30 March with a view to potential industrial action.

Peter Kavanagh, Unite regional secretary for London, said: “London’s bus operators are not taking their responsibility for transport during the Games seriously by refusing to even meet with Unite to discuss a reasonable Olympic payment. Bus workers will be central to the transport infrastructure during the Olympics and their importance should be recognised.”

by Ismail Uddin