We’re almost having our own “spring” with yet another inappropriate situation coming to the public eye and yet another example of poor governance by the States perhaps being resolved.

I have always thought that multi-million pound subsidies for a private company to run a service sounded fishy, especially when there are bugger all buses half the time and when there are buses they are almost as expensive as driving anyway. Or perhaps I was wrong and just needed more facts.

Well now the facts have come to light, and i wasn’t wrong. The unions have been allowed to cement a ridiculous position of leverage over the incumbent, a situation which I am very relieved to say will hopefully not continue. And I’d go so far as to say that I will support in any way, efforts to rectify this ridiculous abuse of precious resources and weakness of management by TTS and the States.

I feel a bit stupid really, almost the butt of a joke, which I think applies to all of us (except bus drivers). In these times where I struggle to make ends meet, where I don’t own a house, and rarely have holidays or extravagances, I had often wondered how on earth so many others owned houses and in these tough times I worried about how they, who do sometimes less exotic, but nonetheless vital jobs, could manage. If I had known that a bus driver could expect to earn £40,000 plus up to another £30,000 in overtime, I certainly would have stopped worrying. And probably considered an HGV test. I am shocked. I am actually disgusted, again, by the way the States have allowed this situation to come about, and feel the loss of yet another thread of confidence in the institution. I am not surprised we are being turned on by the British Government.

Shame on you States of Jersey.

This from Dai Powell of CT Plus – the soon to be bus service provider. read it on their website here

Turning over the stones – Dai Powell 
The Jersey public deserves a bus service that meets the needs of islanders, delivered in a way that also offers value for money for local tax payers. This is not something radical. It is something that everyone would expect – and it is something to which we are deeply committed to as an organisation.

To deliver on our promise of a great bus service for Jersey, we have been exploring how things work now – speaking with staff in all positions at the current operator, meeting lots of passengers at Parish meetings and working with TTS on how to best meet their great ambitions for the service.

It saddens me to say that, when we were carrying out these activities, we have uncovered working practices that would prevent us from achieving those ambitions. A few of these are described below:

Who gets overtime: Our first shock was in the allocation of overtime. This is not controlled by management under the current working arrangements. Some drivers earn up to £70k per year by working up to 70 hours per week. Many other staff are stuck on part time contracts, struggling to support their families. This is patently unfair and worse, the needs of the service itself are left out of the picture. Under the new arrangements, overtime will be allocated fairly and by management.

Who gets what shift: Shift patterns are not controlled by management. For example, in a bus operation there are always some drivers on standby to ensure that the service can be covered in case of sickness or disruption. Traditionally considered an easy duty, this is paid at time and a half on Jersey. The decision about who gets these shifts is not taken by management. For reasons that pass our understanding, there are over 60 of these shifts per week.

In the future, we will control shift patterns, ensure that they are shared equitably and in the best interest of the service.

Union permission to recruit: The employer needs union agreement before it is able to employ extra full-time staff.. We find this position repugnant when so many part time drivers want more, and when unemployment in Jersey is a real concern for everyone. Job creating is a very high priority for us as a social enterprise.

Time and a half for disciplinaries: When staff do have a disciplinary hearing, (for example as the result of an accident), they are paid time and a half to attend a hearing. We believe that this is wrong.

The future
People ask me why we won’t simply take over the terms and conditions as they stand. Having read the above you will see why it would be wrong to do so. I believe that, frankly, matters have got out of hand and that this must end now.

However, we do believe that it is fair to protect livelihoods. In our new terms the hourly pay, the weekend pay, the holidays, pension, sickness are all comparable with or better than the current terms at tender. Staff will be protected for redundancy and unfair dismissal, as under their current terms. On the new terms drivers can earn 40k per year.

We do not approach this from an ideological position against Unionism. Nothing could be further from the truth. We have just signed a recognition agreement with Unite in Guernsey and we have instigated Union recognition in other depots. Where the Union works well, it can be a source of good in the workplace. We do not believe this is always the case in Jersey’s bus service. We will not tolerate the current situation as we have been told it is.

Many reading this will be as horrified as I was when these practices came to light. However, there should be a great deal of hope for the future. Many drivers who have spoken to us are hungry for change, keen to show their professionalism and passionate about providing a great bus service. Even some who benefit at the expense of others in the current arrangement know it’s not right.

We believe that, with resolution, we can deliver a great bus service for the people of Jersey and a great workplace for our staff.