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Bus Drivers Second Strike 11 January 2013

The Department of Community, Culture and Leisure can confirm that it has received formal notification from Unite the Union that their bus driving members will conduct a second strike that will last for half a day beginning at 1pm Thursday 17 January and ending at 6pm.

Hon Graham Cregeen MHK Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure said: ‘When the original notification was given, the Department was advised that drivers had voted for discontinuous action, so we knew it was possible that additional strikes could be called. However, I am disappointed by the fact that the union feels another strike is justified, particularly on an exam day for many in the Island's GCSE, AS and A Level students. The union appear to be seeking to cause maximum disruption to the public whilst ensuring minimum damage to their member’s wages. The Department learnt valuable lessons from the strike over the Christmas period and is ready to put contingency plans into place. We will prioritise school services and will provide further details on revised timetables as soon as we can but hope that the public will understand that a half day strike has a major impact on the full day’s service.’
The Minister added: ‘Whilst we were hopeful that further negotiation on some points would deliver an agreed solution, this has not yet been possible. Unite the Union appear reluctant to understand that any reduction in the savings that have now been secured by issuing new contracts have to be funded by changes to working practices. The Department is happy to reduce the impact of the loss of the paid lunch break on take home pay but needs to balance anything paid out with savings from improved efficiency. Finding new money is not an option. Striking will not resolve this situation; the Department cannot concede funds it does not have.’
The Minister commented: ‘The Department’s position on arbitration has been made clear to the union but appears to be equally difficult for them to accept. Like all Departments, this Department operates to a set budget with funding approved by Tynwald. I do not believe that the role of Tynwald should be replaced by unelected lay members in arbitration. If we went to arbitration, we may find ourselves in a position of having to accept a settlement that we cannot legally fund. That would be untenable.’
The Minister continued: ‘Following the first strike, the Department has employed an increased number of qualified casual bus drivers. However, any Manx workers who hold a valid PPV and are available for work during strike periods are invited to apply to work as a casual worker with the Department. Anyone wishing to register an interest should contact the Office of Human Resources on ohr@gov.im or telephone 686300.’

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