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From The Socialist newspaper, 25 July 2012

Olympic victory for London bus workers

A London bus worker
Hackney bus workers stopped the busses on the 22 June 2012 London-wide bus strike , photo Paul Mattsson

Hackney bus workers stopped the busses on the 22 June 2012 London-wide bus strike , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

London bus workers have voted to accept the Olympics bonus deal offered by all companies operating Transport for London routes. There will be a minimum 500 for full-time workers and many will see 577.50 bonus before tax for working normal duties throughout the Olympics and Paralympics.

One day's action, with large picket lines at most depots, humbled the arrogant bosses. They saw the workers' mood hardening. Two more dates were fixed for action but in the end were unnecessary. This result is a victory. It proves strike action pays and united bus workers are strong.

Before the 22 June strike, the 20 operating companies would not even talk to Unite the Union. Bus firms totally underestimated the mood of workers to see this matter through to a successful conclusion.

A couple of days before the strike, London mayor Boris Johnson, sensing it was different this time and seeing his political career under threat, suddenly came up with 8.3 million. Yet still the bosses resisted chipping in, understanding the wider implications of concessions.

There was a feeling of outrage on the picket lines. Other passenger transport workers in the capital were to get a bonus for the extra pressures the Olympic Games will bring. Why were we singled out as unworthy? What about fairness?

The 71% vote in favour of the deal shows strong approval. But it also shows an important minority thought this wasn't enough. Many thought we had the bosses by the throat for once and should have pressed harder and won more.

True, we could have won more but this is a victory. It must be a first step in rebuilding Unite members' confidence and rebuilding the branches.

This dispute revealed all sorts of dissatisfaction among bus workers. Much of it is summed up as "bullying management". The pressure for change must continue at garage level, backed up where necessary by more united action.

Unite has said it will use the precedent of the Olympic bonus deal to pursue an all-London pay claim next year. Pressure from the members through strong, active branches is the way to make sure the momentum we have built up isn't wasted.

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In The Socialist 25 July 2012:


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