Published 13th July 2012
LONDON - The fairly militant Rail, Maritime & Transport Union, (RMT) led by Bob Crow, has announced that it will ballot it’s members to gain authority to go on strike and take other disruptive industrial action during the Olympics. This is because they say that their members should receive a bonus payment for ‘extra duties’ carried out during the Olympic period.
June has seen several sets of workers become involved, and the latest group of workers to announce a ballot on extra pay is employed by First Great Western (FGW). Their Managing Director FGW is Mark Hopwood (PIC AT BLY) who issued a statement in late June concerning the ballot.
"We have just received official notification from the RMT about their intention to ballot, so it is difficult to comment specifically at this stage. However, we are willing to discuss their concerns with a view to reaching a successful conclusion.
"On top of the 1,500 timetabled services we run every day, on average we will be running fewer than 9 additional scheduled services a day during the Games - that's an increase of just over 0.5 per cent.
"The vast majority of our staff will come to work during the Olympics and do what they do every other day of the year. We have many major events and extremely busy times of the year on our network, and we expect the Olympics to be no different.
"For clarity, the RMT is asking for extra money for all on-board and stations staff in the company working during the Olympics from as far and wide as Cornwall, South Wales and the North Cotswolds, regardless of whether they are affected by additional Olympics passengers or not. Quite simply, this is 'money for nothing' on a grand scale when we should be celebrating this great national event."
The RMT issued a statement on June 22 saying:
Staff working directly for Transport for London are to take strike action and action short of a strike over the total and abject failure of the organization to offer any kind of meaningful recognition and reward for the huge increase in workload and pressure arising from the extended Olympics period and for attempting to impose changes to working conditions and a unilateral ban on annual leave in some departments.
The RMT is also balloting its members who work for Abellio Greater Anglia and the they announced on June 20 that it is making urgent preparations for a ballot for both strike action and action short of a strike of all members on the Greater Anglia franchise following Olympics recognition and reward proposals from the company that RMT dismissed as “both divisive and wholly inadequate.”
The argument may well be construed as an attempt to force management to pay up for a guarantee of a disruption-free Olympic period transport system. Others will think that as railway staff are well paid with pay increasing faster than inflation that they are rewarded enough already.
Others may suggest that the extra passengers forecast to be carried during the games will put staff under extra pressure so they should be rewarded. Another view could be that trains, tubes and buses are already full in peak hours so what is the difference if transporting sporting fans, tourists or commuters?
Some would argue that as staff are not allowed to take holidays during the Olympics that they should be compensated but of course, not all staff want to take time off at peak times. Operating staff work round the clock shifts as normal so there is no difference to this arrangement while the games are on so why should they qualify for extra payment on top of shift allowances already paid.
One further point should be made? If you work at Stratford for example, front line staff will be under pressure because large venues are adjacent. But as Mark Hopwood says, why should staff in rural areas qualify for a bonus. So where do you draw the line to pay a bonus?
Should staff at rural March in Fenland for example qualify for the Abellio Bonus is paid?