Bus drivers have voted overwhelmingly to continue their industrial action - with the next strike likely to take place during TT fortnight.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that 79 cases – not 120 as claimed by the Unite union leadership last week but still a considerable number – have been taken to the employment tribunal.
These have been lodged by 63 individual bus drivers and involve claims for unfair dismissal unlawful deduction of wages.
In a ballot, 73 drivers voted in support of continuing industrial action and three voted against. There was on spoilt paper and 20 ballot papers were not returned.
Nick Black, chief executive officer of the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure, said: ‘The department was notified by Unite on April 22 that a ballot would be held to validate industrial action.
‘No indication has yet been given as to what action may be taken or when it may be taken.
‘The union is required to give seven days’ notice of any action and once we have details of any action we will be able to confirm what contingency measures will be put in place.
‘I hope that we will be able to meet local union representatives next week to identify ways forward that do not disrupt the economic and social activity of the island, especially over TT fortnight.’
DCCL Minister Graham Cregeen said it would be a concern if a strike was held during TT fortnight but added: ‘We will deal with it’.
He said students may be taking GCSE and A Level exams during this time – and a strike would also undermine efforts to push the ‘don’t drink and drive or ride’ message.
Mr Black added: ‘The department is responding to 79 employment tribunal claims made by a total of 63 individual bus driving staff.
‘These include claims arising out of the change to terms and conditions and out of the department’s response to strike action.
‘Whilst the total number of claims could increase over time, the advocate appointed by the union to represent their drivers did advise the chairman of the tribunal at a public hearing on May 2 that there were not 120 claim forms.’
The suggest that 120 claims had been submitted was made Bobby Morton, Unite’s UK-based national officer for public transport.
He told iomtoday the intention was to hold the next strike action during the last week of May or first week in June.
Mr Morton revealed Unite was also taking legal advice on suing the DCCL in the high court over breach of contract. Unite contends a ‘viable’ offer was made but subsequently withdrawn by the department.
The dispute concerns changes to terms and conditions of Bus Vannin drivers, including the loss of paid lunches.