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
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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