The island’s bus drivers have voted to reject a proposal to stop payment for their lunch breaks.
The Department of Culture, Community and Leisure, which runs the bus service, issued a statement this afternoon.
‘The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure is disappointed that drivers have decided not to accept the proposals,’ it reads.
But Eric Holmes of the Unite union insisted that drivers had not been balloted on any proposals - only on the principle of losing a paid lunch break. And he said he was still hopeful a negotiated agreement could be reached and industrial action avoided. ‘If we go down the route of negotiation it would be better for both sides,’ he said.
He said of the 100 ballot papers sent out, 85 were returned and 84 voted ‘no’ and only one voted in favour.
Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure, Graham Cregeen MHK said: ‘I am disappointed with the result of the ballot. However, what disappoints me most is that the department made two offers to bus drivers.
‘Even though I wrote to all drivers on August 6 explaining the two offers, only one offer was put to the drivers. That offer was the one that had the biggest financial impact on drivers.’
The minister continued: ‘The department’s preferred offer was based on a package of measures that compensated the loss of paid lunch breaks with other efficiencies whereby payment could be gained based on the duties undertaken under the new conditions.
‘This would have meant a lesser impact from the removal of paid lunch breaks on individual earnings. The impact of the loss of paid lunch breaks depends upon the number of shifts worked, but on average it is calculated to be about £3,400 per driver per year. The preferred offer would have reduced the individual impact to about £2,000 per driver and would have been valid for two years.’
The department said that efficiency changes that were originally agreed with bus drivers’ representatives as part of the preferred offer were that sick pay would no longer be paid for the first seven days of absence and that the maximum driving time would increase from three hours 45 minutes to four hours 30 minutes.
The minister added: ‘The preferred solution involving increased efficiencies was actually put to us by drivers’ representatives. As it allowed the department to make the annual savings it requires, I was very happy to be flexible. The reason I wrote to drivers in August was that the Union withdrew this offer and decided not to put it to the drivers.
‘The department’s preferred solution will remain available to drivers as it allows the required savings; whatever solution is agreed for October 1, the department must make the same level of savings. Our budgets are already very challenging and it is quite possible that we will have to make further reductions. I feel that it is important that the department makes every economy it can within its own operations.”
Having met with Unite representatives this afternoon (Friday), a further meeting is planned for Monday.
Mr Holmes said the management had already agreed to drop the proposal outlined by Mr Cregeen and a further ballot of members would be held that same week on an earlier proposal which did not include the sick pay element.
He said: ‘Yet again, this is going straight over Minister Cregeen’s head. It would help if he talked to his Chief Executive if he wants to try and keep up.’
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Weather for Isle of Man
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 12 C
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Temperature: 6 C to 11 C
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