Bus strike ‘directed from London’

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CHIEF Minister Allan Bell says the bus strike is being directed from London by union leaders who have failed to understand the island’s serious financial challenges.

Mr Bell was speaking after the Unite union announced a second bus strike will take place on Thursday this week, with a half-day stoppage between 1pm and 6pm.

And Unite national officer for passenger transport, Bobby Morton, said further industrial action will take place in February and March.

He hit out at the ‘intransigence’ of the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure and insisted the only way to settle the dispute over changes to bus drivers’ terms and conditions - including the loss of paid lunch breaks - was to go to binding arbitration.

But Mr Bell ruled out such a move.

He said: ‘I’m very disappointed that this is continuing.

‘It’s quite clear the strike is being directed from London and not locally and who clearly fail to understand the serious financial challenges facing the Isle of Man government and people.

‘There is no question of the department going to arbitration but I’m still hopeful that we are able to achieve a successful negotiated settlement. We have to make these savings.’

Unite says members stand to lose up to £3,000 in pay. The first bus drivers’ strike took place on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday before Christmas.

• The government is to allow parking on Douglas Promenade on Thursday from 9:30am until 9pm. It will be operated under a disc parking system with a three-hour maximum stay.

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