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London buses: Drivers: "This is why we're in the union"
Paula Mitchell and Chris Newby
London bus workers have shown how determined they are to win their dispute. But as we go to press bus operating companies are still refusing to pay London bus workers a £500 bonus for working during the Olympics.
Apparently an offer of £500 was made to all bus workers but only if they worked all 29 days of the Olympics and Paralympics. This is both extremely dangerous and illegal, as Unite said in rejecting the offer, particularly given the massive increase in workload they will face during this period.
Another group of transport workers has won an Olympic bonus offer of £500 - workers on Boris' bike scheme organised in the RMT union.
London bus operators are sitting on over £2 billion of profit and are set to make even more with hundreds of thousands of extra passengers during the Olympics and Paralympics.
And Transport for London top managers awarded themselves £80,000 in Olympic bonuses. But the bus drivers' campaign has been taken very seriously and support has been widely mobilised.
The strike on 22 June was followed with further protests by the bus workers, backed up by other trade unionists and campaigners. This was particularly to target the three companies which won injunctions against strike action and, crucially, to support drivers in those companies.
On Tuesday 26 June protests were held at seven garages and a bus MOT centre was blockaded. On Friday 29 June the same was done at five garages. For over an hour no buses moved at any of them!
In the words of one of the drivers: "This is fantastic, this is why we are in a union." The workers in the three companies who won the injunctions are re-balloting but in the meantime these protests build their confidence so they know they are not alone.
Socialist Party members participated in Putney and Edgware. In both places all the traffic was jammed - in Edgware even the police couldn't get through!
An inflatable rat - "TfL don't rat on drivers" - was joined by the National Shop Stewards Network banner at Edgware, while protesters sang: "You won't get me - I'm part of the Union"
Unite has announced two more official strike days: 5 and 24 July.