Friday, 22 June 2012

ITN News: Fail, do not pass "Go", do not collect your bonus...

Independent Television News (ITN) really stuffed up their reporting of the bus strike, and reasons for it, this evening. It was really atrocious. You could almost have been forgiven for thinking that they were in the pay of the employers, the way they misreported the background and situation.

So, here it is again, for the hard of hearing (ITN, are you reading this?), in bullet-point format...

Please also read the previous Blant entry below, for the background and reasons for our asking for this £500 bonus.

  • For close to ten months, we've been asking the employers to come to the negotiating table. It took Boris ordering them there, to get them there. Even then, they did not even attempt to negotiate, either in good faith or bad. They attempted to dictate terms to us instead. How would YOU feel if your employer did that to you? "Peeved" is probably putting it mildly, I suspect.
  • We asked the employers to come to ACAS. Not the other way round. We've never done that before: This was a measure of how seriously we are taking this mess of the companies' creation.
  • Our union representatives at the conciliation service ACAS tried to agree an agenda for discussion, but the employers failed to budge on any single item. That's not negotiation on the part of the employers, that's dictation.
  • £30 million was not offered up at all at ACAS. The employers only offered the monies Boris freed up, this being the £8.3m or so from the Olympic Delivery Authority. They point blank refused to add any more to the pot (another six million or so would have made up the difference). The ODA monies would have resulted in a £350 payment, not the £500 we asked for.
  • Further, the employers wanted us to accept a per-hour rate, not the flat rate award that all other passenger transport workers in London are to be receiving. This would have left the majority of bus workers with less than even the £350 that the Mayor for London, Boris Johnson, offered up.
  • Boris has stated that "Hard Core Union Activists" wanted a strike. NOT so. The membership as a whole didn't want the strike, but we were left with no choice in the matter. A strike could not happen were it not for the vote that approved such action. This is required by law, before we can down tools. Again, ITN misreported the situation., painting a picture that we wanted a strike. Nothing could have been further from the truth: We were pushed into a corner, and we came out fighting, just as anyone else would.
  • In what we believe to be a highly questionable decision, three companies, London General, Arriva The Shires, and Metroline, were then granted an injunction at the High Court last night. Their staff were required to work as a result. This injunction is shortly to be challenged by Unite.
  • Several depots from other companies, using non-union drivers and managers, and a small handful of union members who disgracefully crossed picket lines to report to work, also ran buses on TfL routes. They were heavily over-boarded by passengers in many cases.

Regrettably, as just mentioned, at a handful of garages, some union members crossed picket lines. I'm not at all happy about that, as you can imagine: They let the rest of us down. In the old days of Closed Shops, they could have been expelled from a union for this offence under the rules; these days, with Closed Shops being outlawed by anti-union legislation over the years, and with membership of a Trade Union being considered by many to be a Human Right, we most likely won't wind up expelling those who crossed the picket lines, but they certainly didn't gain any friends by their disgracefully selfish and disloyal actions.

In summary then, the reporting by ITN was inaccurate, hurtful, plain wrong in many places, and shameful, and I for one won't trust a bloody thing ITN say from now on. By contrast, the BBC London News got everything spot on, and may I pass my thanks on to the BBC and in particular to their reporter, Mr Tom Edwards, for their timely, accurate, unbiased reporting: He's a credit to his profession, and kudos to the Beeb for doing it right.

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