Tube drivers offered £1,800 "bribe" to work during Olympics

London undergroundClive Gee/PA Wire

Tube drivers have been offered a £1,800 bonus to avoid transport chaos during the Olympics.

The move has been slammed as a 'bribe' by MPs who are accusing trade unions of holding the public to ransom over pension demands.

It is reported that train drivers will pocket up to £1,800 simply for turning up for work during the London Olympics next summer. Transport bosses have offered the hefty bonuses amid concerns that the aggressive RMT union could wreck the 2012 Games with strikes.

Apparently all 3,500 drivers on the underground network, who earn a basic salary of £42,750, have been offered a flat-rate bonus of £500. But they will also receive increased overtime payments – meaning they could earn an extra £1,800 on average.

Yet astonishingly, according to the Daily Mail, the £1,800 bonus deal with Tube drivers does not even include a no-strike clause. Surely defeating the object of such an offer, the omission leaves workers free to pocket the cash and still take industrial action to cause chaos in the capital.

Held to ransom
Last night, MPs slammed the payments as a "bribe" and accused the unions of holding the public to ransom.

The controversial bonus offer came to light as increasingly militant union leaders threatened the "biggest campaign" of civil disobedience in Britain's history. It is reported that they plan to disrupt public services and block motorways as well as declaring they are ready to "go to prison" in protest at proposed changes to pensions.

The Daily Mail reports that Conservative MP Matthew Hancock said: "It's outrageous, holding people to ransom. People should not have to be bribed just to do their job. The Olympics should be a celebration for London – not a chance for the travelling public to be ripped off.'

Another Tory MP, Richard Bacon, who sits on the Commons public accounts committee, added: "Tube drivers are not badly paid and they should not need extra money just to do their job."

Widespread action
A further step towards widespread industrial action is expected today during a debate on public sector pensions at the TUC conference in London. Dave Prentis, head of Unison, the biggest public sector union, warned a ballot of more than one million workers was looking "inevitable".

Initial expectations were of a single day of strikes in November, yet the BBC reports that this could now be replaced with extended, co-ordinated strikes, starting in late November.

According to the BBC, proposing a motion calling for strikes to the TUC conference, Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "We've had enough. We've been patient, co-operative and we must say enough is enough.

"If we don't say it now, they [the government] will be back for more and more and more again. We will engage with them... but if they impose change by diktat, we will take industrial action."

He added: "It's the fight of our lives. I know it's an over-used cliché, but make no mistake, this is it."

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