29 May 2013

Isle of Man: twelve day strike hits hard as contingency plans fail

Drivers at Bus Vannin began a 12-day strike on Saturday. They are involved in a dispute with the state-owned operator about £300,000 of cuts, and changes to drivers’ terms and conditions. For most drivers this would mean a £3,000 pay cut.
The island government's contingency plans have already failed. They tried to recruit enough scabs to keep to the normal timetable, but yesterday found this was impossible. They are now attempting to run a bank-holiday service.
The industrial action has been timed for maximum impact. It comes as the island hosts its annual TT Race (for many years this was the most prestigious motorcycle race in the world, and still plays an essential part in the island's economy).
The leader of the Liberal Party on the island, Peter Karran, has criticised Bus Vannin. He claims the dispute is a smokescreen for the government's real agenda – which is to privatise the service.

22 May 2013

Metroline driver Gerry Downing reinstated

Sacked driver and Unite union member Gerry Downing has won his job back in a successful appeal. Gerry works for Metroline at the Willesden garage in north London. Supporters held a solidarity picket outside his hearing.

21 May 2013

Isle of Man: government appeals for scabs

Casual bus drivers are being recruited on the Isle of Man ahead of a proposed 12-day strike. The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure (DCCL) is looking for drivers with a Public Passenger Vehicle licence to help out between Saturday 25 May and Wednesday 5 June.
The walkout over pay and conditions will be the fifth since December. The proposed strike will coincide with the Isle of Man TT races and GCSE and A-Level students examinations.

14 May 2013

South Africa: national strike wins 9.5% pay rise

South Africa's 25-day national bus strike has come to an end. On Monday, striking drivers accepted a 9.5% increase, retroactive to 1 April. This will increase to 10% from 1 October. The agreement period ends on 30 June next year. (The official inflation rate is 6%.)
SATAWU union spokesman Vincent Masoga said the strike had been worth it: “Our members are not 100% about the offer, but they have accepted it and it will make a difference, especially the 10%. There will be a real increase and it will not be eaten by inflation."
Ismail Meyer, a striker at Golden Arrow, said “For us it was not about this year alone. Many of us have felt unhappy with our wage increases in previous years, but just accepted it. This strike was our way of standing up to the employers, to show them we are strong and will not be exploited.”

Ireland: Bus Eireann strike suspended for talks

A crippling bus strike that left tens of thousands of people around the country stranded has been suspended for 48 hours. Up to 95% of Bus Eireann services had been cancelled as a result of the strike, which was provoked by a plan to save 5 million euros.
Bus Eireann management and the National Bus and Rail Union held exploratory talks at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) without preconditions. More than 70,000 passengers a day were being affected by the strike, which ran for two days and cost the company 400,000 euros. A company spokesman confirmed workers would lift the pickets and return to work to allow for "two days of intensive talks".

13 May 2013

Ireland: government fears indefinite bus strike will inspire others

About 1,000 workers at Bus Eireann began an indefinite strike against yesterday. The action is by members of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) who are resisting attacks on their pay and conditions. The operator said that 95% of its services were hit, as staff from other unions refused to cross the picket lines.

Talks with other unions
The Government is desperate to resolve the impasse quickly amid concern that an ongoing strike among the bus workers could encourage others onto the pickets. The ruling coalition is especially sensitive because industrial relations troubleshooter Kieran Mulvey is currently locked in talks with public sector unions in order to strike a deal on making €300m in savings. But if those talks break down without a deal, then the Government has insisted it will legislate for pay cuts across the board. Frontline workers including nurses and gardai have warned of industrial action if this takes place.

'A showcase dispute'
A senior government source admitted it was pressing hard to get the Bus Eireann dispute resolved – given the potential for it to be followed by industrial action by other public sector workers. "No one wants the bus strike to take off in terms of a showcase dispute," he said. None of the 650 drivers in the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union took part in the strike, as the union is awaiting the outcome of a ballot on May 16. But they are refusing to cross picket lines.

Breach of contract

The Bus Eireann strike action centres on the implementation of a €5m cost-cutting plan. The strike is affecting 300 rural and intercity bus routes nationwide. Michael Faherty, NBRU general secretary, claimed the bus firm had forced the strike action by implementing a cost-cutting plan which he described as a breach of employment contract.
Bus Eireann's plan includes a 20% cut to a range of allowance and expense payments, a reduction of overtime rates, longer working hours and a cut in shift payments.

9 May 2013

Isle of Man: big vote for further strikes

Bus drivers in the Isle of Man have voted overwhelmingly in favour of further strike action, Unite has confirmed. They are involved in a dispute with state-owned Bus Vannin about plans to introduce a £3,000 pay cut.
Unite regional officer Eric Holmes said 73 of the 77 drivers balloted voted in favour of action. He said the next strike must happen before the end of the month. It could coincide with the Isle of Man TT races (practice week starts on 25 May). The drivers have already walked out in December, January and February over the planned cuts.

7 May 2013

South Africa: national bus strike enters third week

Unions involved in the nationwide bus strike are planning a host of protest marches this week as they intensify the industrial action. Drivers have been on strike for over two weeks now. They are demanding a pay hike of 18 percent, while employers are offering 9 percent. Negotiations deadlocked for a third time last week.
Driver Edward Mcdonald said even though he was not currently able to pay all his bills, he was positive that it will be worth the sacrifice. “We don’t actually worry about sacrificing right now, all we want is our two digits, and if they do not agree during negotiations then something really bad is going to happen here."