Opinion Former

Unite: Open letters to London Mayor Boris Johnson regarding Olympics

Unite logo
Unite logo

Boris Johnson
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
City Hall
The Queen's Walk
London SE1 2AA


Dear Mr Johnson,

London bus workers claim for an Olympic award

With reference to the above, you will be aware that following some nine months of effort by this union to engage in negotiations with London’s bus operators, the patience of our 21,000 members operating London’s bus fleet has been exhausted.

The legitimate claim of our members for an Olympic award in recognition of their continuing contribution to making the games a success, is in line with that awarded to other transport workers providing services during the Games, including but not exclusively other groups operating under the control of Transport for London; London Underground (£850), DLR (£900) and London Overground (£600). Further, Network Rail, Heathrow Express, Virgin Trains, Bombardier and BAA are all rewarding their staff for the contribution they will make to the Games. Indeed, TfL’s chiefs will be rewarding themselves with a bonus pot of some £560,000 or £80,000 each, dependent on a smooth and successful Olympics.

Given that under your leadership, Transport for London has supported, funded and engaged directly in the reaching of agreements with many of the core groups identified above, we have to ask the question; why you are not prepared to extend the same agreement to London’s bus workers?

Bus workers will be at the heart of a successful Olympics, our members will not only work flexibly and professionally around the many diversions and route alterations being introduced but will operate additional services and an extended timetable to ensure visitors maximise their Games experience. Further, it is London’s bus workers’ who will have a direct interface with the travelling public as well as the capitals traffic throughout the period, providing information and operating at times as mobile ‘tour guides’ to the world.

Their claim for a £500 (net) payment (£17.24 per day) is reasonable and more than affordable given the additional revenue being generated for TfL in fares and other games associated activities. Indeed TfL themselves are estimating that over 800,000 extra passengers will use London's iconic red buses during the Olympics equating to tens of millions of extra journeys over the period. This is in addition to the already rocketing revenue generated from London’s bus network which recorded a record 2.3 billion journeys in 2011/12, the highest since 1959 and over half of all bus journeys taken in England over the year.

Given the above, it is inexplicable that the bus operators acting as one, Transport for London (TfL) and you personally have so far refused to engage in any discussion on this matter with Unite. We are now left with no option but to conclude that the stance you are taking is politically motivated and that the success of the London Games are now being put in jeopardy as a consequence of you and your party's desire to ‘take on Unite’ following your earlier failed attempt to do so involving our tanker drivers. This is a truly reprehensible and irresponsible action.

As a consequence of the above our members, having voted overwhelmingly (94%) for industrial action in pursuit of their claim, are currently engaging in a programme of strike action that will continue beyond the games. A direct consequence of your failure to discharge your duties properly as the mayor of this great city the costs of this dispute will also escalate by an additional day’s pay for each and every day’s industrial action you force bus workers to take in pursuit of their claim.

I make this final call to you to engage personally in assisting TfL and the bus operating companies in finding a just settlement to this matter; as the Mayor of our city, chair of Transport for London and our host for the games. The eyes of the world are upon us and as the games draw closer the questions as to why we are in this position and who is responsible will come into sharper focus.

I am of course happy to meet personally with you and have offered to do the same with Peter Hendy, your Transport Commissioner, in order to assist in finding a resolution.

Yours sincerely


Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary




Date: 30 September 2011

Mr B Johnson
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
City Hall
11 The Queens Walk
London SE1 2AA


Dear Mayor Johnson

SPECIAL OLYMPIC PAYMENT FOR BUS WORKERS

I wrote to you on 8 September 2011 regarding special payments for London Busworkers for the Olympic/Paralympic Games period.

I have not to date heard from you and I am being pressed by my representatives across
London.

I would ask that you provide your response as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely


 


PETER KAVANAGH
REGIONAL SECRETARY




Date: 8 September 2011

Mr B Johnson
Mayor of London
Greater London Authority
City Hall
11 The Queens Walk
London SE1 2AA


Dear Mayor Johnson

SPECIAL OLYMPIC PAYMENT FOR BUS WORKERS

Unite was encouraged earlier this year by the positive statements emanating from your office and from your Transport Commissioner about the special payments to be awarded to rail workers, working during the Olympic Games period. There were clear inferences that a similar principle could be accommodated for those working within the London Underground network. Such payments would, of course, be made in recognition of the increased work loads associated with the huge influx of additional passengers.

You have on occasions been a vocal supporter of London’s bus drivers, arguing quite correctly, shortly after your election, that they are amongst “the world’s finest”.

With this in mind, and with the indisputable fact that our members operating the capital’s bus network will be critical to the success of the Olympics and Paralympics, Unite is seeking a bonus to recognise this.

You have felt it necessary during your term of office to make billions of pounds of cuts and savings to the Transport for London budget and in particular to the bus subsidy. This has, as I explained to you at our most recent SERTUC meeting, had a hugely damaging impact upon our members as operators squeeze pay, with minimal increases, pay freezes and now, increasingly, cuts to Terms and Conditions.


Operators across London are already indicating that there is little prospect of any exceptional payments for ensuring a successful Games and ensuring London copes with the anticipated additional 900,000 passengers on the busiest days during the period. Transport for London have issued a similar message.

We know that there will be hugely increased revenue generated from the hundreds of thousands of additional fare payers, a fact confirmed at a recent meeting between Transport for London and my London Bus Officers.

A positive intervention from your office would be to ensure sufficient funding is made available to the operators to support the payment that our members deserve, and most definitely will be expected to earn.

Such a move would not only recognise the contribution of bus workers during the Olympics and the role they play day in day out in keeping this city moving, but would also give some real meaning to your assertion that they are the “world’s finest”.

I would be happy to meet with you or your Officers in an attempt to move this proposal forward and look forward to your early response.

Yours sincerely

PETER KAVANAGH

 

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