Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Faults on both sides?

CT Plus have placed on their website their position regarding current terms and conditions with Connex.

It is not surprising they want these practices to change. What is also clear is that they are transparent about the terms and conditions they are offering - again all listed on their website - and we have very little information about current terms and conditions apart from those given below.

CT Plus are offering:

Monday - Friday: £13.50
Saturdays: £14.50
Sundays: £20.08
Bank Holidays: £27.00
Overtime rate: Rate as per day type (so weekday overtime at £13.50 etc)
Shift allowance (Mon - Sat): None
Performance allowance: (Mon - Sat): None
Attendance at disciplinaries: Basic pay
Health benefit: £6.53 per week
Pension: £1,312.34 per annum
Holiday entitlement: 25 days
Holiday pay: £539.29 per week
Sick pay per day: £74.62 per day
Sunday working: Rota basis for everyone
Bank holiday working: Rota basis for everyone
Bank holiday paid for hours not worked: 6.5 hours at basic
Bank holiday worked time off in lieu: 7.5 hours at basic rate
Numbers of standby duties: Rota'd as required for the service
Allocation to spare shift rota: Rota'd
Contractual working hours per week: 39
Working week: Monday - Sunday rotating shifts, 5 out of 7 days
Maximum hours permitted to be worked per week: 54

Notice period
Less than 26 weeks employment: 1 weeks' notice
26 - 2 years: 2 weeks' notice
2 - 5 years: 4 weeks' notice
5 years plus: 8 weeks' notice

Sickness entitlement

Waiting days: 2
Probationary period: None
Up to 1 year's service: 2 weeks basic pay
1 - 2 years: 3 weeks basic pay
2 - 3 years: 5 weeks basic pay
3 - 4 years: 6 weeks basic pay
4 year onwards: 8 weeks full basic pay, 6 weeks half basic pay
Staff travel passes: Self plus one other living at same address
Probationary period: 26 weeks

Sticky Points

I can see a few points which may raise legitimate problems with drivers being taken on:

Drivers may have been working for Jersey Bus, and then Connex for many years. Do the entitlements or notice period start or sickness entitlement start from scratch? The position above appears to wipes that experience and time employed out, and starts with a blank slate, so that rookie drivers and experienced hands are treated the same. I think that this point should be negotiable, especially with regard to sickness entitlement, and probably with regard to notice period as well.

Jim McCartan has said: "One of the strikers' complaints is that changes to their contracts do not take into account their length of service.". I think that's a fair complaint.

The compulsory working on Sundays is perhaps something which Ian Gorst, and the other Christians in the States might wish to consider. Perhaps an option whereby without clocking up more than 54 hours, the shifts can be reallocated to those who want extra money, and if that can be done, the driver would not need to work Sundays. I think that this point should be negotiable

Currently drivers are paid a shift allowance, but I don't know the basis for this. It could mean a compensation for having to work unsociable hours, e.g. evenings, but with same hours, just different time (from 9-5). This means that they don't get paid any different when they actually work the late shift, but that they have already been (and will continue to be) compensated for it via the shift allowance. Lots of bus companies in the UK do pay sift allowances. I think that this point should be negotiable

Unacceptable Practices

However, practices that are not acceptable are listed by Dai Powell below:

Who gets overtime: Our first shock was in the allocation of overtime. This is not controlled by management under the current working arrangements. Some drivers earn up to £70k per year by working up to 70 hours per week. Many other staff are stuck on part time contracts, struggling to support their families. This is patently unfair and worse, the needs of the service itself are left out of the picture. Under the new arrangements, overtime will be allocated fairly and by management.

Who gets what shift: Shift patterns are not controlled by management. For example, in a bus operation there are always some drivers on standby to ensure that the service can be covered in case of sickness or disruption. Traditionally considered an easy duty, this is paid at time and a half on Jersey. The decision about who gets these shifts is not taken by management. For reasons that pass our understanding, there are over 60 of these shifts per week.

In the future, we will control shift patterns, ensure that they are shared equitably and in the best interest of the service.

What isn't made clear here is who controls this, if it is not the management. Is it the Union? Is it a particular coterie of drivers?

Union permission to recruit: The employer needs union agreement before it is able to employ extra full-time staff.. We find this position repugnant when so many part time drivers want more, and when unemployment in Jersey is a real concern for everyone. Job creating is a very high priority for us as a social enterprise.

Clearly this restriction ensures that excessive overtime can be clocked up rather than employing new drivers.

Time and a half for disciplinaries: When staff do have a disciplinary hearing, (for example as the result of an accident), they are paid time and a half to attend a hearing. We believe that this is wrong.

They also note that:

However, we do believe that it is fair to protect livelihoods. In our new terms the hourly pay, the weekend pay, the holidays, pension, sickness are all comparable with or better than the current terms at tender. Staff will be protected for redundancy and unfair dismissal, as under their current terms. On the new terms drivers can earn 40k per year.

A Challenge

The time element raises the question of how much (for example) Union boss Jim McCartan, who is leading the protest, and responsible for the wildcat strike has to lose. He could quite easily request Connex to make all his hours public over, say, the last three months, so that we can see exactly how many hours he works each week. He need not give any details of pay, just the hours. Will he take on the challenge, or has he too much to lose by doing so?


It can be seen, I think, that the demand to just take on existing terms and conditions is in part a smokescreen for some very disreputable practices by some - those who organise overtime and shift allowances.

But on the other hand, there are some legitimate grievances, such as not respecting the length of service. The problem is bundling them together, the bad practices can be used as a stick to beat the drivers, while legitimate points get overlooked. It is clear that they are being overlooked by CT Plus, which makes no note of them in its press release, concentrating instead on bad practices, or by Deputy Kevin Lewis, who does much the same.

TTS (reported on CTV) say they have carried over the rights of drivers and other staff apart from overtime. But they don't specify the length of service provision explicitly, and haven't been challenged (as far as I am aware) in any interviews by the media; in short, they, and CT Plus, have managed to get away with a one sided narrative in which they can avoid legitimate questions about terms and conditions.

As they were given a take-it-or-leave it deadline by CT Plus of this Friday, there was clearly a frantic reason for a strike by the Union.  A deadline after which you lose your job if you don't capitulate can also be called a "climate of fear"; a matter overlooked by Kevin Lewis. It is also not clear how negotiations were proceeding, and they might have been optimistic regarding the legitimate points. In that case, setting a date for a strike a week ahead might have been sending out the wrong message, that they weren't prepared to negotiate. There's a lot of confusion in the reports from either sides, but it seems like a standoff with no party prepared to budge.

Jim McCartan, from Unison, said the strike action was indefinite and that staff "had been backed into a corner". The deadline from CT Plus and the lack of any statement or negotiated position (made public) on length of service was just as intransigent as the unions demand for taking over all existing practices. There are clearly faults on both sides, but CT Plus probably have the better PR, given the wildcat strike.

But clearly there was also a failure by the drivers to allow for the general public as well, and it would have been better to at least give at least one or two days notice rather than none at all, to allow for the news to filter through to those passengers who instead were waiting for buses that never came. That would still have been "illegal", but it would have gained more public sympathy, as would the retention of school buses. And was it not beyond the wit of the Unions or TTS to send out someone (on a motorbike perhaps) along bus routes to inform those passengers that they would be waiting for non-existent buses?


Anonymous said...

If it was promised that the transfer was to be treated as though TUPE was law in Jersey and that nothing would change, then all issues raised rightly or wrongly are in breach of such an agreement.

All changes should have been previously discussed before the new contract was presented, or the person who made such a promise should have been man enough to go back to the employees and tell them he could not make such a promise.

It now looks as though someone new there would be changes and knew it would lead to a strike and tried to force it through by allowing no legal time for a strike and a threat of job loss for not signing. More bullyboy rather than discussion and agreement.

I'm still on the fence as I'm not convinced that the promise was only a "I'll do all I can to ensure it is honoured etc.."

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading your posts and I always thing they are fair. At the begining of the bus strike I felt the strikers were right and I supported them. But then I read what the offer was from CT Plus and I saw it as a much fairer proposition. What I think has happened is that TTS has allowed a situation to continue that they should have put a stop to years ago. Now a decent company has come in and said, hold on, we are not going to be messed about with. Instead of the Jersey Way we will do it the money making way, and many of our bus drivers dont understand that. These bus drivers that we have now aretoo used to getting their own way and have based their lives on a wage that was never sustainable. Basically they were living on a hope that the usual states of jersey contribution will carry on supporting a very high wage for doing what is reasnably a middle of the road job.

I wouldnt sack any of the employeees but I would like to tell them to understand that the good times are over and they can't continue to expect the best of both worlds.

thejerseyway said...

Hi Tony.

Going to put up the Audio of the Questions in the States Yesterday about this bus strike latter & a interesting Interview of Mr Chris Lewis. I think there is more to this.

I'll link you But do you know how to get it to the wider public Bus Driver's.


TonyTheProf said...

"If it was promised that the transfer was to be treated as though TUPE was law in Jersey and that nothing would change, then all issues raised rightly or wrongly are in breach of such an agreement."

But no one has waved any piece of paper or email demonstrating this yet. I think we have to assume that this was not the case.

Jerseyway - please put link on my comments area to your interview, and I'll publish it.

Anonymous said...

A verbal contract is still a lawful contract, but difficult to enforce if one party says something different at a later date unless there was a witness, which is why best advice is always get it in writing.

thejerseyway said...

Hi Tony.

Right I've put the Audio up of the Minister's Statement, The Urgent Question & a interview of Chris Lewis from Tantivy.

You & your reader's can Listen HERE

I hope this gets out to who ever which's to here it.

Not one to jump on Ozouf's back but it does Smell Fishy!!!!


Anonymous said...

Hello Tony

The ctplusjersey page is updated with some conditions revised upwards presumably as a result of this weeks negotiations.

Continuity of service should be fair for both employer and worker. It is understood that transfer of staff has never been promised to anyone but was hoped for on the assumption that Connex managers provided the States with all employee information. Union reps would not let disciplinary records be revealed so ct plus quite rightly felt unable to preserve continuous employment and rightly so. Otherwise staff on final warnings would have seen the slate wiped clean.

Shift allowance. Given to drivers by Jersey Bus a month before Connex took over. This was to replace lost earnings from no longer having school bus work providing overtime. By 2007 connex had won this work too and surprise surprise the shift allowance was never taken back off the drivers.

As you rightly point out there is no excuse for wildcat action. But had the original operator Jersey Bus been capable managers they would have kept the union in check and not allowed their labour costs to spiral out of control and allow the bus service to become unprofitable which ultimately led to it being put to tender by the states ten years ago.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,
some interesting points & comments here,as a bus driver I would like to help clear a few points up.

I take offence at the comments levelled at us from Mr Powell as they appear to have been made without any effort to find out the truth and considering the troubles in our sister island it does make me wonder a little on his business ethics...

All the drivers shifts,contractual overtime ect is set by management prior to the start of the season (the only input we have is to give advice on scheduling & time management for traffic conditions) all other overtime is completely voluntary and assigned by the inspectors on a rota depending on shift patterns.

As to the extortionate amounts that CTP have claimed we earn on their web site (in the region of £70k) I can honestly say hand on heart that NO driver has or ever will earn that sort of money, there just are not enough hours in the day! on average we earn somewhere in the region of £40k (what CTP claim that they pay also) however using the information that they provide I hav'nt been able to get close to this figure!To get this sort of wage we are at work on average 60+ hours a week (remember we work 6 days minimum) so i invite anyone who thinks we earn an extortionate wage to try this simple calculation, your weekly wage divided by hours worked X 60 hours X 52 weeks and see how your wage would be if you worked comparable hours.(our average hourly rate is around the £12.80 mark) also bare in mind that we are (as drivers) classed as skilled labour (I know many people may disagree with this lol) but we do have to pass a separate driving test & undergo an annual police check to hold a P.S.V. permit to be able to carry public, we also have a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of our passengers and other road users, this can be very hard considering the quality of driving we see on the road every day (before anyone says it I know we make mistakes too!). Although we seem to do nothing but sit on our backsides all day, driving a large vehicle around the small jersey roads all day does demand a huge level of concentration (you try getting a 7'6 wide 35ft long vehicle through Victoria village!)

Lastly, as to the crux of this whole dispute, as yet no member of staff has seen sight of any form of contract (the deadline to sign up is tomorrow night) we have still not seen any terms and conditions for any other members of staff (info desk, mechanics, cleaners ect)and other than a few 1 on 1 meetings no further talks or mediation has been entered into by CTP.

as for the agreement to transfer staff,I would like to draw your attention to recommendation 4 and the response by the (then) public services committee on the following PDF

Many thanks

TonyTheProf said...

Thank you for your comments. Regarding rates of pay, a 39 hour week would give £27,378, and a 54 hour (max) one would give £37,904 at the CT Plus rates - actually probably more because holidays work out around £10 a week more than a 39 hour basic pay week, and saturday, sunday and bank holidays have more than £13.50 an hour. I suspect that CT Plus are working from a best outcome model, not allowing that not all drivers may do all weekends.

Your current rate of £12.80 yields comparative figures of £25,958 and £35,942.

So the basic average is increased, it is the reduction in hours that is causing the problem.

I've been looking at Guernsey, and would be interested to know what is going on there. Could you get hold of an email me a copy of a Guernsey contract with names and any personal information blanked out first by whoeever supplies it to you.I notice CT Plus have been very cagey about hours limits in Guernsey.

You haven't addressed the fatigue problem yet - 60 hours seems a long time to drive.

The transfer with loss of accumulated service is something which I think is grossly unfair.

I would be interested in a face to face interview which would lead to a guest blog posting to represent your views, keep your identity anonymous, and discuss the major problems.You'll see that I've presented these before pretty fairly on my blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tony,
I just wanted to let you know that the last comment you had on your post 'Fault on both Sides' in October was from my hubby.

He apologises that he hasnt been back in touch with you but things seemed to be quietly moving along after the last bus strike and he didnt want to rock the boat un-necessarily. Things are no longer moving quietly along, there are major issues going on and he felt that now would be a good time to have a chat. If you would like to contact him i can give you his email and tel no, but for obvious reasons these need to be kept private if you would be willing to let me have your contact details i will forward his on to you.
This is something i think you may find rather interesting and i hope to hear from you soon, (i will be checking back here daily)
Many thanks

TonyTheProf said...

Thanks for your reply. Yes, just email me at