By Duncan Mackay in London

London busJune 9 - Transport plans for London 2012 were thrown into jeopardy today when thousands of bus workers voted to go on strike during the Olympics in a row over a bonuses.

Members of the Unite union voted for industrial action by a ratio of nine to one unless they receive £500 ($773/€618) from Transport for London (TfL) for working during the Games.

The union is seeking the bonus for the 20,000 bus workers it represents, claiming that other transport workers have been paid a premium for working during the event.

The ballot allows the union to name the date for a strike but they have not yet done so.

Unite said it was giving the bus companies a final opportunity to consider the "landslide" ballot result before announcing possible strike dates early next week.

At least 800,000 extra passengers are predicted to use London's buses during the Olympics.

Peter Kavanagh, the regional officer for United said negotiations had been going on for a year.

"There are only seven weeks until the Olympics and the whole world is watching London," he said.

"It's a disgrace that London's Mayor, Boris Johnson, and the bus companies have allowed this dispute to get this far.

"Our members are only asking for an extra £17 ($26/€21) a day which will just about buy you a pint of beer and a portion of fish and chips at the Olympics.

"Our members want the Games to be a success but their patience has run out.

"We have given Transport for London and the bus operators almost a year to resolve this issue.

"Every single London transport worker in London will receive a reward to recognise their major contribution to this historic occasion except for London's bus workers.

"It is time for TfL and the bus companies to consider this landslide vote in favour of strike action and resolve this dispute.

"This dispute could be brought to an end now if the bus companies and TfL have the will to provide the relatively small amount of money compared to the billions being spent on the Games." 

Leon Daniels, TfL's managing director of surface transport, claimed that the majority of bus drivers in London were against a strike.

"I am not surprised that 70 per cent of London's bus drivers did not vote for strike action," he said. 

"That is because about 70 per cent of London's local bus services are not affected by the Olympic Games.

"The whole country is really entering into the spirit of the Games and the overwhelming responsible majority are pulling out all the stops to make it a huge success.

"Only Unite appears to want to exploit it by adding a further multi-million pound burden to the hard-pressed farepayers and taxpayers of London.

"We are really disappointed that the Unite leadership is encouraging its members to take this unnecessary strike action.

"Unite has already negotiated binding deals for pay and conditions with each of the London bus companies for this year and those companies are keeping their end of the deal.

"Attempting to tear up those agreements and get a new one with less than 50 days to go before the Games is completely reprehensible and out-of-step with every other provider of services in this city this summer."

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