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Strike threatens Boris bike disruption from Sunday evening

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.

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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