Town bus drivers in strike ballot
BUS drivers in Ipswich are to be balloted on possible industrial action after rejecting changes to their working conditions.The drivers showed their opposition to changes in an unofficial ballot in which 90 per cent voted.
By Paul Geater
BUS drivers in Ipswich are to be balloted on possible industrial action after rejecting changes to their working conditions.
The drivers showed their opposition to changes in an unofficial ballot in which 90 per cent voted.
Of these 108 voted in favour of moving to an official ballot on possible industrial action with just seven against.
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"We aren't happy about the way things are going at the moment – they're investing in new buses and new ticket machines and new equipment, but they don't want to invest in the people they employ," said one bus driver who did not want to be named.
"Now the shifts are so tight we don't have any time to get out of the bus between circuits, we can be sitting there for hours with no chance to stretch our legs or go to the toilet," he said.
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The maximum time permitted by law is five and a half hours behind the wheel, and the driver said many shifts were that long without even a short break.
"The new system around the town centre was the final straw, it filled up the last few minutes we had – now there is no time at all for a break and the drivers are all furious," he added.
He said drivers were talking about banning overtime and rest-day working, but hoped passengers would not lose out.
Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson denied that anyone worked five and a half hours non-stop.
"The longest shift we have is just over four and a half hours, but we do have a problem recruiting staff which means people are working overtime," he said.
"We are having a meeting to discuss the issues on Tuesday and I hope everything can be resolved then.
"But I understand that no ballot can be held for three months anyway, so there is plenty of time to talk," he said.