A QUARTER of bus drivers have accepted the new terms and conditions offered by the Department of Community, Culture and Leisure, Minister Graham Cregeen MHK has confirmed.
Last week the bus drivers’ union Unite announced that it would ballot its members for strike action as they refused to accept the changes, including the end of paid lunch breaks.
On Friday, Mr Cregeen circulated a letter to Tynwald members stating: ‘All those drivers whose responses were expected by today have chosen to remain in our employment.’
This amounts to a quarter of the 100 bus drivers in total.
Meanwhile, Mr Cregeen has corrected figures he provided in the House of Keys last week in relation to bus drivers’ basic pay.
In the letter to Tynwald members, he said: ‘For clarity, in the House of Keys on Tuesday, October 23, I mistakenly referred to £37,000 instead of £27,000 as the basic figure.
‘The basic figure is approximately £28,000; the average figure approximately £38,000.’
A group of five bus drivers, writing on behalf of Bus Vannin drivers, have called for Mr Cregeen to make an ‘unreserved apology’ over the error.
They wrote that ‘one must be certain of the facts before going to print’, adding that if the basic figure was £37,000, as the Minister originally said, ‘that being the case each and every driver is owed somewhere in the region of £10,000’.
In the letter it said bus drivers had offered a number of options, which had all been rejected by the DCCL.
It continues: ‘We have offered to go to binding arbitration and frankly it was akin to showing a crucifix to a vampire.
‘Only DCCL can anwer why they are so afraid of an independent arbitrator.
‘The drivers are more than prepared for the Manx public to know everything “warts and all” and comply with any and all decisions made by an independent body.’
In their letter they ask: ‘In the year 2012 is it reasonable to sit in a chair for 4 hours 30 minutes?’
It continues: ‘I would ask all working people to sit down next week for as long as possible before leaving their chairs. Not many will make 3 hours 45 minutes, which presently is the case with bus drivers.’
According to the DCCL, in 2011-12, 31 drivers earned £40,000-45,000, 43 earned £35,000-£40,000 and 21 earned £30,000-£35,000.
The Minister has said the drivers’ pay bill equates to almost a third of the total spending of the DCCL after allowances for loan charges.
Unite is yet to announce the timetable for the ballot. The union’s national officer for passenger transport Bobby Morton has said it is unacceptable that members will lose an estimated £2,500-£3,000 a year.
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