BUS drivers could make a claim for unfair dismissal.
In the latest twist to the bus drivers’ dispute, it emerged that Unite union members could take a case for unfair dismissal to the employment tribunal - despite accepting the new terms and conditions.
The island’s 100 bus drivers were issued with notices of termination of their existing contracts on October 13.
Since then, according to the union, about a third have agreed to new terms and conditions which include an end to paid lunch breaks.
The Department of Community Culture and Leisure has confirmed the drivers were offered three options - agree to the new terms; accept the new terms while reserving their position; or decline the new terms and conditions and leave the employment of Bus Vannin.
Bus drivers’ representative Billy Chestnut claimed the majority of his colleagues who had signed up to the new contract had done so under the second option, under which technically they have been dismissed and so could lodge a claim for unfair dismissal.
He told the Examiner: ‘The media have been fed propaganda by the department. What they won’t tell you is that the vast majority of drivers have signed under option 2. They had a gun at their head. The department want to divide and conquer - they want to pick us off one by one.’
Mr Chestnut said that between 20 and 25 claims for unfair dismissal had been lodged with Unite. ‘We will be pursuing each on a case by case basis,’ he said.
He said drivers had been offered an immediate appeal - but added: ‘Who is going to hear the appeal? The guy that sacked you.’
The DCCL said it could not comment on whether drivers had lodged complaints with the union but it confirmed that the drivers had the right to make a claim for unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal in accordance with the 2006 Employment Act.
Chief executive Nick Black said: ‘We can confirm that drivers were given three options in connection with the termination and re-engagement process.
‘The first option was to agree to the variation of contract. The second option was to accept the new terms and conditions whilst reserving their position. The third choice was to decline the new terms and conditions and leave DCCL employment.
‘The department made it clear that those drivers choosing not to respond would be considered to have chosen option 2. It was not for the department to judge that any employee would wish to either agree the new terms or choose to leave employment.’
Unite says it will ballot members for strike action.