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2 July 2012
With talks to avert two days of bus strikes across the capital in the run up to the Olympics starting at conciliation service ACAS this morning Unite has slammed an offer made that would require London's bus workers to break the law to achieve it.
Warning the capital's transport chiefs that it is time they got serious about solving the dispute, Unite accused the employers of acting with `gross irresponsibility' by implying workers could gain a £500 bonus under an offer previously made at ACAS and rejected out of hand by the union.
Unite says that the £500 offered by the twenty bus operators was immediately rejected at previous talks as it required it's members to work all 29 days of the Olympics and Paralympics in order to achieve it.
Steve Turner, Unite executive director of policy, said:
"Not only is this highly dangerous given that our members carry six million passengers daily on some of the most congested streets in the world, but it is illegal under drivers' hours and working time regulations, which stipulate minimum rest periods and maximum hours on duty."
The union is warning London's transport chiefs that neither it nor its members will countenance anything that puts London's travelling public at risk.
Calling upon the employers, Transport for London and the Mayor to get their acts together to ensure the same, Steve Turner, added:
"It is high time London's transport chiefs got serious.
"With only 25 days to go before the Olympics opens, they must stop fanning the flames of this dispute. They know our demand for bus workers - £500 net, no corner cutting and no compromise.
"They have already insulted every one of our 21,000 members with their £12.00 per day offer and by telling them that they are not worth the award every other transport worker in the capital has been was awarded without fuss, including those working on Boris's bike scheme who were awarded £500 just days ago.
"Now, to add insult to injury, they criticise the union for not consulting our members on an offer tabled that not only falls far short of the £500 (nett) claimed; but would mean breaking the law as well as putting at terrible risk road and passenger safety at the busiest time on London's roads. Their actions are grossly irresponsible.
"The reality is that the offer made would give a bus worker just over half of the award claimed, and only then if they worked all their legally rostered shifts over the Olympic period.
"It beggars belief that the cartel running capital's transport system can treat a key workforce, drivers, passengers and the visitors to London with such contemptuous disregard.
"We all want the Olympics to succeed but if the bus employers cannot get serious about solving this dispute then we say to the mayor, Boris Johnson `show some leadership, it's what you were elected to do; get on one of your bikes and join these talks now'".
Unite says that the twenty bus operators have some £2 billion sitting in their accounts and could easily meet the union's claim in full.