Wight Bus service had been due to be closed at the end of August as part of a £280,000 transport cuts package rammed through by the Conservative-led authority. But now they have found the money to set up a volunteer “Big Society” operation under the umbrella of Southern Vectis.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “We have no doubt that the Isle of Wight has been chosen in a deeply suspect, cynical and opportunist fashion as a pilot for a Big Society drive to replace paid bus workers with unpaid volunteers.
“David Cameron has repeatedly denied that the Big Society is about dumping paid staff and replacing them with unpaid volunteers and yet that is exactly what is happening on the Isle of Wight buses in what we believe is nothing more than a testing ground for a policy ready for roll-out across the rest of the country.
“We know that bus services are under increasing attack from ConDem austerity cuts the length and breadth of the country and we now have the clearest evidence that the Big Society will be used as a battering ram to replace skilled and experienced staff with ad-hoc volunteers putting thousands of jobs at risk."