Alexa

London 2012: Unions won't hold us to ransom

London 2012: Unions won't hold us to ransom

As London commuters faced the chaos of another subway strike, a senior Olympic official warned Wednesday that organizers won't be "held to ransom" by unions during the 2012 London Games.
Workers on the London Underground went on strike for the third time in as many months Wednesday, delaying a speech by London 2012 chief executive Paul Deighton at a sports conference.
London firefighters also plan to go on strike Friday in a contract dispute, raising fears that union action could disrupt the Olympics.
"From the beginning we've understood the industrial relations exposures," Deighton told the International Sports Event Management Conference. "We clearly wouldn't want to get ourselves in a position where we would be held to ransom for example.
"We are thinking very carefully about what the critical components are of the services that need to be delivered and how we manage those relationships early enough to really deal with any at games time. That's one of the range of risks we think about in those terms."
Deighton later ruled out any bid to obtain emergency government legislation to outlaw striking by key services during the Olympics.
"This is the United Kingdom," he said. "We don't do this sort of thing here."
If subway workers do strike during the games, Deighton is confident that the range of transportation serving the Olympic Park in east London would prevent widespread disruption.
"Compared to other games there are lots of different ways to get to the park," he said. "But I don't think we are planning to work around that _ you wouldn't want to be working around it."
The other risk facing the Olympics is security. The day after the city was awarded the Olympics in July 2005, four homegrown suicide bombers attacked London's subway and bus network, killing 52 commuters and themselves.
"Security is the thing we think about most, talk about least," Deighton said. "The balance you have to get right. People need to feel safe and in control, but they don't want their experience sterilized. For me the traditional concept of the traditional British bobby is the perfect way of bringing it together."
Away from the risks, Deighton also expanded on plans for the opening ceremony on July 27, 2012, which is being planned by Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of "Slumdog Millionaire."
"It will (have) an absolutely stonking (amazing) soundtrack," Deighton said. "If you look at any of Danny Boyle's films they have a brilliant soundtrack and Britain has a strong musical heritage.
"In Britain, we have a different approach to humor which will come in to it somehow. The British do have their own sense of humor. I do not imagine that our ceremonies will lose out on the sense of pageantry or sense of performance. There will be fun in there."