Over 200 Arriva bus drivers in the Medway, Kent have begun being balloted for industrial action over the introduction of unachievable timetables, which their union Unite warns will make it impossible to deliver a safe reliable service.
The drivers serving the Medway towns of Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Rochester, Hoo Peninsula and Strood, raised concerns over the introduction of ‘unachievable’ timetables in June this year.
Expressing fears that the new timetables would lead to excessive periods at the wheel, resulting in fatigue, the drivers had won assurances from management that a solution would be found by September 2015.
With the deadline passing and further changes to timetables worsening the situation, drivers have grown increasingly frustrated with Arriva, which they accuse of continually ‘shifting the goalposts.’
The timetable changes have resulted in unrealistic running times on routes. Drivers are also being kept at the wheel for five and a half hours at a time with as little as four minutes ‘recovery’ time and limited access to toilet facilities.
The ballot for industrial action closes on Wednesday 25 November 2015.
Commenting Unite regional officer Dave Weeks said: “Our members pride themselves on the service they provide to the travelling public, but it is a service which is being undermined by recent changes.
“These timetable changes make it impossible for drivers to deliver a reliable and safe service. The current driving conditions are leading to drivers being behind the wheel for excessive periods without even the time for a ‘comfort’ break.
“Arriva management cannot continue to shift the goalposts or bury their head in the sand over the impact of the recent changes. Bus drivers have become increasingly frustrated. It’s time for management to enter into meaningful talks to address the concerns of Medway Arriva bus drivers and to stand by its promises.”
For further information please contact the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065 or Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors:
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.