September 15th, 2006 at 09:49am
ACTION management have decided to go back to the drawing board over their proposed driver shift changes. The move comes amidst credible rumours of sudden and surprise strike action being planned by the Transport Workers Union.
ACTION management had proposed a system based mainly on split shifts, which would have seen a large reduction in the number of middle-of-the-day bus services, and a drastic increase in the number of hours bus drivers spend at work. The shifts were rejected by drivers at a recent stop-work meeting, but ACTION management stubbornly refused to accept no for an answer, and subsequently offered the same shifts on a non-negotiable basis.
The Transport Workers Union and ACTION bus drivers were understandably annoyed at this, and credible sources inside ACTION claim that the Transport Workers Union were planning a surprise and sudden strike, to take place this morning. This would have involved TWU officials blocking the depot gates, and turning drivers away as they arrive for work, effectively stopping all bus services for the day. This plan is unconfirmable due to the very nature of the rumoured industrial action, which has previously been suggested publicly, and drivers subsequently threatened with fines equivalent to multiple days pay if they carried out the action.
It is believed that ACTION management got wind of the rumours, and decided to retract the shifts and negotiate with the TWU. At approximately 2:30pm yesterday, an announcement was broadcast to drivers via ACTION’s two-way radio system that the shifts had been withdrawn, and negotiations were continuing.
The proposed shifts would have seen the majority of drivers on split-shifts, where they would have been expected to be at work by 6 or 7am, drive busses until about 10am, then sit around at the depot for a couple hours just in case there was “special” work to be done, this would then be followed by an unpaid break of a couple hours, and then drivers would be expected to drive until about 6pm or later. This would have the effect of ruining ACTION’s family-friendly atmosphere, and pose a safety risk with drivers being required to be awake for more hours in the day. It would also have slashed middle-of-the-day services (ie. 9:30am-3pm) to the bone, stranding the people who rely on the bus services for transport, especially elderly people and shift workers.
Drivers may also have been alternated between day time split shifts, and night shifts, a move which may have resulted in even more driver fatigue as drivers may have struggled to adjust to constantly changing rosters.
Under the proposed changes, Flexibus (known here as Flexichaos) would have been replaced with normal route services, possibly the only sensible move in the proposed changes.
At this stage it is unclear what the 6 person ACTION management comittee (who have replaced former CEO Peter Wallace, and apparently have never been bus drivers) will come up with in their next offer.