The bus drivers call off their strike

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A BUS strike planned for Tynwald Day (today) and tomorrow has been called off following last-minute talks.

It comes after the union Unite held a ballot on Friday which saw 73 of the 99 bus drivers voting in favour of accepting a revised offer over terms and conditions from the government.

Unite regional industrial organiser Steve Salter said: ‘I’m quite happy we have been able to resolve this without the need to cause any disruption.’

David Cretney MHK, who, as Community, Culture and Leisure Minister, is in charge of the buses, said: ‘Contrary to public perception I am not directly involved in the negotiations but I fully support senior officers who are seeking to buy out some historic, and restrictive, terms and conditions.

‘The sticking point was over the level of sick pay and I am pleased bus drivers have decided to accept the revised offer and I look forward to buses running as normal whilst the department and union finalise the terms and conditions that will allow us to move forward.’

Mr Cretney said bus drivers were being paid sick pay according to their scheduled weekly duty, which saw them being paid up to 50 hours a week. The department wanted to cut sick pay to 37 hours but it was agreed drivers be paid sick pay at their minimum guaranteed figure of 42 hours.

Mr Salter said: ‘Given that on average bus drivers work on average 46 hours and are guaranteed a 42-hour working week, we see that being a fair resolution.’

It was also agreed to increase the length of time drivers work without a break from three hours to three hours 45 minutes. These figures include 10 minutes signing on and 10 minutes signing off time (not actually driving).

Drivers used to be paid weekly by cheque – and were entitled to 20 minutes paid time each week to pay them in. It has been agreed that existing employees will be paid weekly by BACS (Bankers Automated Clearing System).

As part of the original offer, the DCCL offered drivers £1,500 compensation for accepting the three hours 45 minutes driving duty option and £250 to move to monthly BACS.

Mr Salter declined to comment on the level of compensation agreed between Bus Vannin and the union. No one from the department was available for comment as the Examiner went to press.

The average driver takes home £37,800 per year when overtime is taken into consideration. In the UK, drivers’ salaries tend to range from £15,000-£30,000. According to the average wage is £23,591.

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