RMT workers to stage two-day stoppage next week

A dispute over pay and conditions looks set to disrupt London’s Boris Bike scheme at the beginning of next week. Transport union RMT has called for a 48-hour strike after its members voted unanimously for industrial action in a dispute with Serco Barclays, the contractor that runs the scheme.

The action runs from 9pm on Sunday August 11 to the same time on Tuesday August 13.

RMT members working for the Boris Bike scheme are responsible for looking after the bikes, transporting them between docking stations and maintaining the stations. However, not all the scheme’s operational staff are RMT members, so the likely level of the disruption is unclear.

The union says it has been in talks with Serco Barclays on behalf of its members regarding pay, including Serco’s imposition of a 2 percent pay rise; the imposition of new shift patterns; bullying and harassment of RMT members and Serco’s refusal to reach a formal agreement on travelling time or on travel allowances.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: “Despite talks with the company we have not been able to make significant progress and so we now have no option but to announce strike dates this month.

“There has been a whole barrage of press reports recently that the so-called Serco “Boris Bikes” are facing severe docking and capacity problems, and yet the staff running the London cycle hire scheme are facing a bullying management who are imposing outrageous changes to conditions of service while denying our members a fair pay increase in recognition of the growing workload.”

He said that despite its high profile, the scheme, “risks collapsing into chaos through a massive under-investment in staff, bikes and docking stations.”

According to the Evening Standard, Serco has condemned the industrial action as “unnecessary” and says it will make “every effort” to minimise possible disruption. Andrew Hill, contract director for Serco, said: “We are deeply disappointed the RMT has decided to take strike action.”

Serco said it had reached an agreement with its “recognised" union, Community.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.