By Marcus Leach
MPs have criticised unions of holding the public to ransom after it was revealed tube drivers will receive cash bonuses of up to £1,800 for turning up to work during the 2012 Olympics.
Officials have agreed the bonuses in an effort to prevent the threat of strike action during the London Games. However, MPs are calling the bonuses bribes and are outraged at how the public are being held over a barrel.
The news comes at a time where leading union bosses are planning widespread industrial action over proposed public sector pension reforms.
“The drivers could have demanded fur coats for the wives or football season tickets for the men if they wanted. It’s an amazing deal but one which the Tube had to do. There was no alternative,” said a senior source connected with the talks.
In response to the news Conservative MP Matthew Hancock stressed that the Olympics should not be a chance to exploit the public.
“It’s outrageous, holding people to ransom," he said.
"The Olympics should be a celebration for London — not a chance for the travelling public to be ripped off.”
His views of 'greedy tube drivers' was shared by Tory MP Richard Bacon.
“Tube drivers are not badly paid and they should not need extra money just to do their job,” he said.
The tube network has 3,500 drivers, all of whom earn a basic salary of £42,750, and all have been offered a flat-rate bonus, or bribe depending how you look at it, of £500 to ensure they don't strike during the Olympics.
However, given an agreement with Aslef, the train drivers’ union, that figure could rise to £1,800.
“London Underground (LU) has reached agreement with train drivers’ unions over temporary changes to working arrangements and payments during the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Games," a spokesman for Transport for London said.
"The agreement follows six months of constructive discussions with union representatives, and will allow LU to meet the demands of extended services in the most efficient way.
“In return for agreeing to these temporary changes to existing working arrangements during the Games, all train drivers employed by LU on July 26 2012 will receive a one-off payment of £500.
"In addition, shifts of a certain duration or which finish after 01:30hrs will attract extra payments.”
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