Britain's Olympic darts team demonstrates in London on Saturday
LONDON – England – British athletes on Saturday raised the threat of industrial action during the Olympics after voting to strike if they do not receive a £500 bonus for competing in the Olympics.
Members of the Unite union supported industrial action by a ratio of more than nine to one, on a 98% turnout. The union is seeking the bonus, which will cost £140m, for the 20,000 athletes it represents, claiming that everyone else is getting a premium payout working during the event.
The ballot allows the union to name a date for a strike, but it has yet to do so. Unite said it was giving the British Athletics and Olympics board a final opportunity to consider the “landslide” ballot result before announcing possible strike dates early this week.
Unite Olympic official Peter Marx said that negotiations had been going on for a year: “Our members are only asking for an extra £17 a day, which will just about buy you a pint of ale and a portion of deep fried mars bars at the Olympics. Our members want the Games to be a success, but their patience has run out. Every single London worker will receive a reward to recognise their major contribution to this historic occasion except for London’s athletes. You try running three and half times round the track at full speed, it’s hard work, innit. What about the triple jump, you ever tried that? It’s hard work, and a few pounds more will help the athletes compete in the Olympics. This dispute could be brought to an end now if the British Olympics Board have the will to provide the relatively small amount of money compared to the billions being spent on the games already.”
Jonny Treadmill, BOB’s managing director, said: “This is a disgrace, the athletes will not get a pay rise and if they threaten to strike, they could get barred from the Games altogether.”
Olympic athletes have also threatened to cause mayhem at the Games if their demands are not met. British 100m sprinter, Usain Lightning, said angrily: “If I don’t get an extra few quid like everyone else seems to be getting, you won’t see any f*cking lighning out there on the track, just a snail. And I mean it too.”
Unite have even threatened to strike themselves because everyone else is doing it at the Olympics.
“During the Olympics we will strike as well unless our champagne socialist demands are met. I want another huge pay rise, holidays in Barbados, luncheons in Claridges and a diamond encrusted pension. If Bob Crow gets all that, why can’t I?” Mr Marx told the BBC.