12 Jun 2013

Guernsey: carrots and sticks after wildcat strike

A Guernsey bus driver, who acts as a Unite union representative for staff at CT Plus, has been suspended. It follows a day of unofficial strike action by drivers, and has sparked upset amongst colleagues as negotiations continue to resolve the dispute between drivers and the operator.

More strikes possible
The service was brought to a near stand-still on Monday by an unofficial wildcat strike, after drivers voted to stage a walkout the night before. Drivers are meeting again at the weekend to discuss the possibility of further strike action. It follows months of rowing over pay, conditions, shift-times and safety concerns.
CT Plus insist that the suspension has nothing to do with the strike action or the ongoing row. Unite regional officer Bob Lanning said the suspension would make conducting negotiations with the men more difficult than it currently was. Mr Lanning is due to fly into the island today (Weds) in an effort to speak to them.
The company has reportedly offered each driver £100 Co-op vouchers, to ease their complaints about a pay
freeze. Mr Lanning, who has asked for a consolidated pay rise for the men until October, said the deal on the table at the moment was not good enough.

Working to rule
The ongoing bus row has seen drivers make a point of how they will not exceed 25 mile per hour speed limit while running services this week, even if they are late.
As well as 'working to rule', which means sticking to contracted hours and no extra shifts or sickness cover, drivers say they will not break the speed limit despite the vehicles have had the mechanical speed limiter changed so it can allow for faster speeds. CT Plus have confirmed the limiter was changed so buses can reach speeds of 30mph, even though the legal limit for those vehicles is 25mph.

'An accident waiting to happen'

Bus drivers have denounced CT Plus promises after talks held in the wake of strikes and have said that, without significant changes, the service is an ‘accident waiting to happen’.
Speaking on condition of anonymity the drivers said the strike was not about money, but conditions. ‘I would not let my kids use the bus,’ said one, ‘because you have got drivers who have been working non-stop all day. They are too tired to continue – it [our timetable] is too much and too dangerous.’
The timetable has been designed in such a way, they said, that ‘if you are late for your first stop, you are late for your last’ and there is no time for them to take breaks.
‘You have drivers working endless hours, only have a few hours sleep and then return to work. There is not even any time for a toilet break.’ Tired drivers at the wheel meant, sooner or later, there will be a ‘big accident’, they said.

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