Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Bus Strike: Some Background Details

Today I'm publishing a full memo from one of the drivers. I notice that Nick Corbel is reported as saying the strike had to be about the drivers. For example, on BBC News:
"Nick Corbel, Unite union regional officer, said the 66 drivers and five other staff felt strongly about the driver's dismissal."
And on CTV:
"Nick Corbel from Unite said: "I can understand our members' frustrations. However, we have to operate within the terms of the employment legislation. The trade dispute relates to the unfair dismissal of a driver. They were balloted on that one issue and decided to take strike action."
This contradicts what is said here about the ballot. Can someone publish the primary ballot paper, so we can see precisely what the issues are, as it seems from the memo below that is not the case, and the very real grievances about working practices are being side-stepped by both Liberty Bus and the Employers.
In the meantime, Kevin Lewis appears to be nothing from the sidelines except suggest to the public that they show "community spirit". There are some real issues here - health and safety, excessive shifts, tired drivers, zero hour contracts, and it appears that Liberty Bus are in some instances managing to evade the 42 hour week. These are matters which need verification and investigation, and the somewhat supine and laid back attitude of Deputy Lewis is not what is needed. Perhaps he should note how the late Dick Shenton managed to get involved in bus disputes and bang heads together until there was a fair resolution acceptable to all parties.
Channel TV has reported on the memo from one of the drivers:

Today ITV News has obtained this staff notice which is going to be placed on the notice board at the bus station for drivers to read. It says that "The note, written by one bus driver, expresses real frustration that other grievances about things like shift patterns and lunchbreaks have been, in their eyes, completely overlooked by the union."


But the memo is quoted selectively, and not in full. Below is the complete memo. I think it is important that it is made public in the interests of transparency, so that whatever the rights and wrongs of the drivers, the public can see a more complete picture of what is happening behind the scenes, and I hope this will prompt some action even at the Eleventh Hour by some members of the States to avert a strike. Lyndon Farnham has called the strike "seemingly irrational industrial action"; this memo shows that it is not. Perhaps Senator Farnham could step in where Kevin Lewis seems reluctant to act? Everyone politician who complains seems content to wring their hands from the sidelines, as if there is nothing they can do. I cannot believe that Senator Dick Shenton would have done that.


Memo to Bus Drivers
No doubt you will have seen and heard all the recent media releases from the Management and Nick Corbel.  Despite what is being portrayed, this is not the main reason for the possible  industrial action.
Unfortunately, the company has decided to focus purely on the questionable dismissal of the 2 drivers and are making sure that this is what the public hear.  This has led to the media and therefore the public focusing solely on this too and not the real reasons for the action being taken as this would highlight the companies poor management and organisational practices.
A ballot was taken to show our support against the unfair treatment of the 2 staff members however as their cases are still ongoing it was agreed that it would not be appropriate to take action on their behalf at this time.  The primary ballot paper and the REAL reason for the current proposed industrial action is over the unfair and unacceptable working conditions that ALL STAFF have been subjected to.
The following points were the Union Representatives agenda for the meetings that have been held over the last couple of weeks, in an attempt to avoid industrial action.
Need for a return to a correct procedure in compliance with employment law with regards to correct consultation processes through union representatives.
No facilities for union reps as agreed, such as secured document storage area etc.
Workshop staff back to normal shifts with no lone workers. (health & safety)
Cleaning staff, shifts and working conditions
Use of U.K. domestic driving rules invalid as they do not apply in Jersey. If U.K. regulations are to be followed then surely this should also apply to TUPE law?
30 min meal breaks not adequate. Missing time for bus set up & loading time ect.
Spread over pay missing.
Ignored pay claim from March 1st.
Shift changes still being implemented without notice. (Advised by Donna Dixon that a minimum of 3 weeks notice should be given).
Part time divers in breach of 54 hour rule (multiple jobs)
Some full time drivers still missing Health & pensions
No need for part time drivers (zero hour/minimum contracts) as shifts should be correctly organised  so that staff work full time with all the legal benefits i.e. holiday, sick pay pensions etc.
Trip times cut,
Pay in time missing/ short on many shifts,
Excessive dead time,
Short turnaround times
Long, badly organised shifts
Breaks away from depots, e.g. Route 29 meal break at Gorey/Jersey Pearl in the bus.
Schools after long/ early shifts with tired drivers
No pay parity for drivers, same job, same pay.
Although some progress has been made, it has been a very long and slow process (as you are aware) the company has strongly resisted attempts to communicate with staff representatives, despite numerous attempts by representatives to arrange meetings since even before commencement of their contract in January.
You have no doubt seen further evidence of the companies bullying tactics with the printing and posting of predominantly negative comments in the staff areas.  Despite what CT Plus would like us to believe, there are large numbers of members of the public out there who DO support the staff in our fight for fair working conditions as is proven by the comments to us by many of our passengers (who are unhappy with the poor service they are receiving) and on social media sites.
Hopefully these meetings will continue and we will be able to resolve the issues so that we can bring the bus service back to the high standards that we are used to, for everyone's benefit.

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