The Rail, Maritime and Transport union formally declared a dispute at London Underground on Tuesday after failing to make progress towards a deal over payment for working during the Olympic Games.
The union rejected an offer of up to £500 for thousands of Tube workers, saying there were too many strings attached. It also said it would ballot hundreds of administrative staff at Transport for London on industrial action over “severely restricted’’ annual leave during the games this summer.
Officials claimed that leave had been banned altogether during the games in one department, which would make life “impossible’’ for many staff, especially those with children of school age.
The RMT has reached several deals with rail companies for extra pay during the Olympics, including a £500 bonus for staff at Virgin Trains and Network Rail, £600 for London Overground workers and an agreement with Docklands Light Railway which union officials said could be worth up to £2,500. Unite is seeking a £500 payment for bus workers
Bob Crow, RMT general secretary, said: “RMT reiterates our stance that all grades of transport employees are entitled to a decent financial reward for their efforts transporting huge numbers of passengers during the Olympics and are entitled to take leave during the summer. Working conditions and important agreements should not and need not be attacked in order to facilitate Olympic running.’’
Unions say members will have to work extra or longer shifts, change working arrangements and be under increased pressure because of large numbers of visitors to London for the games.
Howard Collins, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: “We have been in discussion with the unions for many months about working patterns during the Olympics and have put forward our proposals about how to fairly reward staff.
“We have scheduled further discussions with the unions on the issue today and have also agreed to continue talks at Acas later on this week should an agreement not be reached at these discussions.’’
Gillian Alford, TfL’s director of corporate industrial relations, said some office-based staff would be asked not to take leave during particularly busy periods during the games.
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