26 Apr 2012

Go-Ahead swallows Anglian Buses

North Suffolk-based Anglian Buses is under new ownership following a takeover by the Go-Ahead Group. Anglian Buses, which operates 71 buses and employs 133 staff, is based in Beccles and also operates from a depot at Rackheath, near Norwich, running a range of services in an area stretching from Norwich to Ipswich.
Set up in 1981 by David and Christine Pursey, the business also operates a mix of commercial routes and school and local bus contracts. No details of the deal were released.
Go-Ahead employs around 22,000 people across the country and was one of the shortlisted bidders to run the region’s rail franchise, losing out to Dutch firm Abellio.
This is the latest of several Go-Ahead acquisitions in the region. Last month they took over Essex-based Hedingham Omnibuses and in 2010 they bought Norfolk-based Konect. They also operates buses in Oxford, London (where they have a 20% market share), the South East and the north of England. 

25 Apr 2012

'They just kicked me when I was down' — Dundee driver wins £16,700 claim for unfair dismissal

A former bus driver who crashed into a parked car in the city centre says he feels vindicated after an employment tribunal ruled he was unfairly dismissed by National Express Dundee. The company now has to pay more than £16,700 to Graeme Brannan after the tribunal ruled they did not properly investigate the circumstances into why his vehicle ploughed into a parked car in Crichton Street, causing further damage to two vans.  
Mr Brannan was praised at the time for managing to avert injury or further catastrophe to more than 30 passengers on his bus. But he was then blamed for the accident by the company and sacked, despite an independent investigator deciding the bus's throttle had stuck. The company's own investigation ruled Mr Brannan had been at fault and dismissed him.   
Following the tribunal's judgment, Mr Brannan said he felt he had been badly let down by the company. ''They didn't give a monkey's about me. I saved between 30 and 40 passengers from injury — nobody was hurt at all and the passengers thanked me," he told The Courier. ''They asked how I was and so did the police, but nobody from National Express asked me how I was. ''I was in shock but I wasn't given any counselling or anything and they just kicked me when I was down. My mother died from cancer three days after they sacked me.'' http://www.thecourier.co.uk

20 Apr 2012

Belfast walkout wins victory - in an hour

Earlier today scores of bus drivers abandoned their vehicles outside Belfast City Hall for around an hour in a bid to get a suspended colleague reinstated. Union leaders hailed the action a success after receiving assurances that the driver had been allowed back to work. Bus operators Translink said the action was unofficial and unnecessary.

It is understood the driver was suspended over an incident involving the handle of the bus's manual ramp for disabled passengers. The driver's union said their member had been disciplined after allegedly breaking off the handle. Unite shop steward Michael Dornan addressed the protesting drivers outside City Hall. "We have stood together and got our colleague back into employment and will ensure it never happens again," he told them.

Safer system
After the drivers returned to their vehicles, Mr Dornan added: "I am pleased that we have got the assurance that the driver is back and we are now going to sit down with management in an attempt to get together a safer system, whatever we need to do to ensure no other driver will suffer from this because it is something that we do on a daily basis. "It is something that we have to do. It's something we are glad to do because it is something that aids and helps the disabled people."

Support for colleague
He said fellow drivers had given their colleague great support. "I am heartened at the support that they gave their colleague but the situation there was it could have happened to any one of them and that's why they were outraged, and they wanted the assurance it wouldn't happen to them."

Video: President of Cairo strike committee addresses London colleagues

A recent strike by 45,000 bus workers in the Public Transport Authority in Cairo won large increases in a lump sum on retirement, and promises by to look into workers’ demand to return the PTA to the Ministry of Transport. 
This is a message from the president of the Cairo strike committee to drivers in London who are balloting for action over an Olympic bonus. If the subtitles on the video aren't showing, click on the "cc" button at the bottom of the YouTube screen.

16 Apr 2012

Spurred by protests, Astrakhan drivers strike

Astrakan, Southern Russia
Around 150 minibus drivers joined the protest movement in Astrakhan on Friday by announcing a strike to demand better working conditions. They are protesting layoffs in the sector and demanding higher wages,
The city of some half a million has grabbed media headlines in recent days after protests broke out there in support of the losing candidate in the city’s recent mayoral elections, Oleg Shein. He has been on a month-long hunger strike over election fraud. 
The striking drivers of Astrakhan’s ‘marshrutki’ city minibuses gathered for a protest on Friday afternoon and later held a cavalcade around the city. Although promoting their own demands, the strikers are coordinating their actions with the other protesters. The strike was called after the drivers met with Shein and his supporters on Friday morning.

13 Apr 2012

FirstGroup flogs routes to raise £100m

Many local bus routes across Britain could be sold off in the next few months as FirstGroup seeks to raise over £100m by selling the weakest parts of its business. The plan to concentrate on markets with the best growth potential was outlined at FirstGroup’s end of year trading update. Chief executive Tim O’Toole told investors that the UK Bus division was suffering from poor revenue figures particularly in its urban operations in Scotland and the North.

11 Apr 2012

Brussels shut down by transport strike

Brussels, Belgium
Yesterday workers on the metro, trams and buses struck for a fourth straight day after one of their colleagues was beaten to death on the job. They vowed not to return to work until the government deals with their long-standing security concerns.
The action by workers at the Societe des Transports Intercommunaux de Bruxelles (STIB) is paralysing the capital. It kicked off after a STIB inspector was killed on Saturday. He was at the scene of a minor accident between a bus and a car when a friend of the car driver reportedly laid into him. The 56-year-old man of Albanian origin who had worked for the agency for 29 years died of head injuries later in the day. The suspect has been arrested. 

Violent acts
Unions have been demanding stepped-up security on transport routes for years, citing an increasing number of violent acts committed by members of the public. STIB spokesman Francoise Ledune said staff resent being expected to act as policemen. "We already do a lot and maybe even too much. We do a role that is not necessarily ours. Action in the short term must be taken at political level," he said.

5 Apr 2012

FirstGroup to cut 200 jobs in Edinburgh

Up to 200 jobs are under threat after bus operator First Scotland East said it planned to end some of its services. The operator, which is part of FirstGroup, plans to close its Dalkeith bus depot and "significantly" cut the size of its Musselburgh depot, both on the outskirts of Edinburgh. It plans to discontinue a number of services across the region.
First Scotland East has started a consultation with unions on the possibility of redundancies at the depots but has indicated it will offer affected workers posts elsewhere within the group where possible. 
The operator said it had decided on the cuts after years of poor trading performance – blaming a "challenging" economic climate, high fuel prices and cuts in subsidies. However, the parent company is still making a substantial profit.
Profits before people
Last week, Aberdeen-based FirstGroup warned that margins at its UK bus division would be squeezed from 13% to 8% this year. The company said the north/south divide was widening "with considerably lower growth rates emerging in Scotland and the north of England". Poor economic conditions and cuts in government subsidies were blamed for the deterioration in trading.  

Late last year, FirstGroup asked the Office of Fair Trading for permission to cut back on bus routes linking Glasgow city centre with destinations to its east.

Only 96 jobs remain
Sandy Smart, regional industrial organiser for the Unite union, said proposals to close the Dalkeith base had come as a surprise as cuts were expected to be spread across the firm’s entire operation. 
Of the 287 First employees across its three Lothian depots – one base in North Berwick is unaffected by the plans – only 96 positions are likely to remain. To offset the scale of job losses, First depots in Livingston and Galashiels may take on some of the staff let go.

Villagers at risk of being marooned by the cull of bus services have vowed to defend the routes. Five communities are facing the threat of isolation from the public transport network if the plan is implemented. Campaigners from Ormiston and Pencaitland in East Lothian, as well as Midlothian counterparts in Cousland, Millerhill and Newton Village, have railed against the move and vowed to protest “all the way to Alex Salmond”.

3 Apr 2012

Busworker meeting on fight for an Olympic bonus

We've called a meeting that's open to all London bus workers: 
How can we win the Olympic bonus? 
Unite members have voted overwhelmingly to strike for a London Olympic bonus payment of £500. The union says it is moving to formal ballots at the 15 bus operators across London.
How can bus workers push this campaign forward?
How do we make sure that issues like fair pay and a “two-tier” workforce are raised alongside the bonus issue?
How can we get “one rate for the job” across London?
Come along to discuss the way forward for the campaign.

 Saturday 14 April, 5.30pm
@ Willesden Labour Club (the Apollo club)
375 High Road, London NW10 2JR
Opposite Willesden bus garage

For more information call 07973 640 057