New offer in bid to avert bus strike

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BUS chiefs have made a revised offer to drivers about sick pay in a bid to avert strike action next week.

Bus drivers are due to strike on Tynwald Day (Tuesday) and Wednesday in a dispute over conditions.

However, following further talks yesterday, bus chiefs have come up with a new offer on sick pay.

David Cretney MHK, Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure, said: The outcome of those discussions is that the department has agreed to modify one element of the proposed changes to bus drivers’ working arrangements and consequently to reduce the compensation payment proportionately.

‘The issue that had caused the drivers concern was the payment of sick pay: Drivers’ representatives agreed that they give up the right to be paid sick pay according to their scheduled weekly duty, which currently means that they are being paid up to 50 hours a week even though they are off sick.

‘The union representatives proposed that they be paid sick pay at their minimum guaranteed figure of 42 hours, rather than 37 hours as the department had wished. The Department has reduced its offer of compensation in proportion to the savings lost.’

Bus drivers are due to vote on the revised offer today and a further statement is expected.

The proposed strike would affect those planning to travel to St John’s by public transport for Tynwald Day and school bus services the following day.

A Department of Education spokesman said schools would be open as usual and that while they sympathised with parents over the inconvenience of any industrial action, it was within the remit of Bus Vannin to arrange transportation.

A strike would affect about 3,000 students (mostly secondary), out of a school population of 12,237.

The DCCL wants to increase the length of time drivers work without a break from three hours to either three hours 45 minutes or four hours – according to a majority vote of drivers.

These figures include 10 minutes signing on and 10 minutes signing off time (not actually driving).

The department offered drivers £1,500 or £1,750 compensation – depending on the length of time they opted to work before a break – if they agreed to this change.

UK legislation allows for up to five hours 30 minutes driving time before a break. There is no Manx legislation.

Drivers are currently paid by cheque – and are entitled to 20 minutes paid time per week to cash them.

The department wants to move to weekly BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing System) and has offered drivers £250 for agreeing to this.

Sick pay would now be fixed at 42 hours a week, and drivers’ right to take their lunch at their home depot would be removed.

The DCCL says drivers are currently working a three hour 45 minute duty having voted last August to work outside their current agreement while a new contract was negotiated.

An announcement on the outcome of talks is expected today (Friday).

FACTFILE

• Basic pay for drivers is currently £12.50 per hour, £19.02 on Saturday, Sundays and other premium days including bank holidays – on average drivers earn around £37,800 per annum including overtime.

• In the UK, drivers’ salaries tend to range from £15,000-£30,000. According to mysalary.co.uk it’s £23,591.

• Drivers are guaranteed 37 hours with a scheduled rota week of 42 hours (including five one- hour paid meal breaks)

• The basic wage for a driver (excluding overtime) is £27,500 based on the weekly guarantee but the rostered average working week is almost 46 hours which equates to £30,000 per year

• The average driver takes home £37,800 per year when overtime is taken into consideration

• Some £830,000 was paid in overtime in the past financial year. This is all pay above 37 hours

• All duties have a one-hour paid break plus two 20-minute breaks or a further hour break depending on the length of the duty. They are entitled to the 20 minute break after three hours and the hour’s break after five hours

• Under the present working agreement, the five one-hour meal break payment per week is also included in sick pay and holiday pay

• If a driver works in excess of their duty content on what is deemed an early finish day – no later than 4.40pm – they receive an additional payment for two hours 45 minutes irrespective of the additional time worked

• There are 96 full-time drivers.

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