BUS drivers are facing the loss of paid lunch breaks as cash-strapped government continues to try and make savings.
At a meeting held last Friday between trade union representatives and Department of Community, Culture and Leisure management, those representing the drivers were told an urgent saving of £300,000 was needed and could be made if drivers relinquished their paid lunch.
It is believed this could cost the average bus driver between £3,500 and £4,000 a year, which would equate to a 12 per cent pay cut.
Minutes from the meeting, obtained by the Isle of Man Courier, show director of public transport Ian Longworth proposed a two week period during which the department was open to negotiations and suggestions on where else the saving could be made. After that he said there would be no option other than to revise the terms of the drivers’ working agreement, which would apply from November 1.
Some suggestions were made by union reps about charging those in the 60 to 65 age bracket who are in employment to use the buses. At present they travel free, as do other pensioners and children.
Mr Longworth is quoted as saying drivers who do not agree with the new terms could ‘choose to leave’ the department’s employment. It would not count as redundancy ‘as long as the changes to the terms and conditions were reasonable’.
Union reps are seeing this as a veiled ‘90 days’ notice’ threat and are unhappy it has been made so early on in the negotiations.
One union representative, Brian Glover, is quoted in the minutes as telling management there would be ‘a fight’ if management tried to take away lunch breaks.
Newly appointed DCCL Minister Graham Cregeen was at the meeting, as was his chief executive Nick Black.
Unite the Union held a further meeting on Wednesday night to discuss members’ options.
iomtoday understands that, although it is a possibility, members are keen to consider strike action only as a last resort. They want to negotiate with management but believe taking away the paid lunch hour is unfair as they lost other areas of pay when they began receiving it. These areas of pay would not be reinstated if it was removed.
It is also understood the union has suggested the introduction of discretionary sick pay as a way of making the required saving, but only if it applied across the DCCL and not just to bus service staff.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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