Drivers unhappy at empty bus run

UNHAPPY bus drivers today claimed they will have to travel from Felixstowe to Ipswich to collect their vehicles – and drive them back empty to start their working day.

UNHAPPY bus drivers today claimed they will have to travel from Felixstowe to Ipswich to collect their vehicles – and drive them back empty to start their working day.

Drivers are angry at changes in their working conditions which they say will cost them money to work for First Eastern Buses, and shift changes which will impact on family life.

They are concerned that not enough is being done to retain and recruit staff – but First said its priority was to retain staff and had been negotiating fully with drivers.

The company is to close five bus depots on August 28 – Felixstowe, Framlingham, Saxmundham, Bawdsey and Sudbury.

In future, drivers from those areas will have to travel to Ipswich to collect their vehicles instead of starting from "home", but the company feels the travel distances are "reasonable".

One driver who has just left the company said: "Everyone is very frustrated at the changes.

Most Read

"The company has offered a contribution towards the cost of travelling to Ipswich each day, but it is not enough – we would still be out of pocket.

"On top of that, there is nowhere to park in Ipswich. So drivers will either have to fork out huge sums to park in Ipswich centre car parks while at work, or park on the outskirts and walk in each day, making the day even longer. It's ridiculous.

"This new system will also mean buses will run empty every morning to get to Felixstowe, Rendlesham and so on, to start the shift, and then empty back to Ipswich every evening."

Another worker claimed the new shift system would mean drivers having to work more weekends Sundays with less Saturdays off, and later and earlier shifts, affecting family life.

Philip Seago, operations and commercial director for First, said the key priority was to retain all existing staff, and their union was involved in consultation.

"It was necessary to make these changes owing to the expiration of leases on the current sub-depots, and as part of the streamlining of our Ipswich area operations," he said.

"Most of the drivers affected were offered a mileage allowance to enable them to offset the burden of travelling costs caused by having to relocate to the Ipswich Depot.

"This was offered on the basis of a weekly payment or in the form of a lump sum. It also includes the offer to examine on a case by case basis any particular drivers' concerns if he/she felt that the company was not acting reasonably."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter