Bus dispute not over pay

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Regarding the comment in the Manx Independent of June 24, ‘Do you back the bus drivers or should they just get on with it?’ (Bus strike threat not about pay but hours says union.)

This comment, I feel, is inappropriate. The bus drivers have been balloted and voted in favour of industrial action. This does not mean that they will go on strike.

For the information of your readers this issue is in relation to the actual time that a driver spends behind the wheel before he or she gets a break.

This has increased since the shambles of a new timetable has been introduced. This is a safety concern. Drivers are unhappy with the time they spend behind the wheel. They have genuine concerns for your and their safety.

To date theirs is a national campaign ongoing to reduce the amount of hours that bus drivers spend behind the wheel before they get a break. Breaks at turnaround points don’t count as they have no facilities. Bus drivers on local work are not covered by tachographs or EU rulings on drivers hours. Indeed the Isle of Man doesn’t even recognise tachographs or EU rulings on drivers’ hours.

So, you’re reading this article, at home, in the office,in the factory or whatever. You have the basic humanitarian facilities available to you.

What happens then when a bus driver needs the loo halfway through their driving turn? [Do they] nip into a pub (they risk chance of the sack) hold on till he finds a public loo if it’s open, or knock your door and ask to use your convenience?. If they’re found out they could get disciplined for leaving the bus and passengers unattended.

That is why the unions and public bodies that look out for professional drivers are campaigning to reduce the time that local drivers spend behind the wheel.

The longer any bus driver is behind the wheel the greater the increase in fatigue and stress. Now surely the safety of the travelling Manx public should receive public support?

And with safety in mind perhaps the people of this island should be reminded of the complete disregard of their safety following a recent decision of the DCCL.

Since the new timetable the department have openly advertised for casual drivers. What is a casual driver, I hear you ask?

Well, that’s an employee that you take on but don’t guarantee them any work, only to be used when the employer needs them. What you the public don’t understand is that many of these casual employees already have other jobs, many driving lorries and taxis.

What controls does the DCCL have over how many hours these people have worked before they get behind the wheel of a state owned bus? NONE.

A very dangerous situation I hear you think? A full time employee who has their working hours monitored or a casual driving my bus? Am I safe?

Let’s be honest here, there is not a person in the world that would take on a zero-hours contract unless they either had another job that could fit in, were rich or simply greedy.

Regardless, the DCCL have exploited the current economic climate. This is a time bomb. Let’s all sit back and wait eh? When will the first casual driver fall asleep at the wheel? I’ve told you all.

So next time you get on a bus ask the driver if their employed full time or casual. If it’s the latter then get off and walk, you’ll be safer.

Mr Cretney, you have completely let down the Manx public in fact you’ve let Mr Longworth lead you up the garden path blindfolded.


Non bus driver, holder of HGV and PSV licence and trade unionist. Regular traveller on Isle of Man buses.

Address supplied

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