Trains take strain again in strike

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CONFIRMATION of this week’s bus strikes was announced first on a railway enthusiasts’ website.

Before the Unite union or Department of Community Culture and Leisure officially revealed details of Wednesday’s two two-hour stoppages by Bus Vannin drivers, a timetable for contingency services on the railway was published on the website of the Isle of Man Steam Railway Supporters’ Association.

It shows that once again the temporary halt at School Hill, Castletown, will be used for students at Castle Rushen High School.

Trains will leave Port Erin at 7.35am, 8.10am, 3.50pm and 5.30pm, while services from Douglas will leave at 7.55am. 3.40pm. 5.15pm and 5.50pm.

Wednesday’s industrial action will take place between 7.30am and 9.30am and 3pm and 5pm. Bus Vannin should publish timetables for the strike services later today (Monday).

Community, Culture and Leisure Minister Graham Cregeen MHK said the action was deliberately timed to target young people taking exams.

Unite national officer Bobby Morton said he would visit the island again on Thursday to attend a second mass meeting of drivers. At a meeting last Monday, drivers voted unanimously to escalate their industrial action over the long-running dispute over changes to their terms and conditions.

Mr Morton said he had made a commitment at the last meeting that he would be keeping in constant touch with Bus Vannin union members.

He said this followed concerns he had with the last offer put to the membership. ‘I received a piece of paper with no figures on. I didn’t understand it and if I didn’t there was no chance the membership would either. That will not happen again.’

He said there had been no movement in the dispute, despite radio reports of a possible breakthrough.

The DCCL said: ‘The department has always been of the view that a negotiated solution is achievable. While there is no reason to believe that the strike planned for Wednesday will be called off, the promise of further meetings over coming weeks is welcomed.’

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