Over 200 Arriva bus drivers in the Medway towns, Kent will be on strike tomorrow (Friday 4 December) and Monday 7 December over the introduction of unachievable timetables, which their union Unite warns is making it impossible to deliver a safe reliable service.
Significant disruption is expected to bus routes serving the Medway towns of Chatham, Gillingham, Rainham, Rochester, Hoo Peninsula and Strood, following a breakdown in last ditch talks and a continued refusal by Arriva to address a number of concerns, including driver fatigue and poor service, resulting from the timetable changes.
According to Unite, 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.
Concerns over the new timetables were raised in June this year leading to 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.’
Friday and Monday’s strike action runs from 05:00 to 05:00 on the following day.
Commenting Unite regional officer Dave Weeks said: “Arriva has continually moved the goal posts over these timetable changes which make it impossible for drivers to deliver a reliable and safe service.
“Strike action is not a step our members take lightly. They pride themselves on the service they provide to the travelling public, but it is a service which is being undermined by recent changes.
“The blame for any disruption lays fairly and squarely at Arriva management’s door. We have continually raised major concerns about the changes which are leading to drivers being behind the wheel for excessive periods without even the time for a ‘comfort’ break.
“We would urge Arriva to get back around the negotiating table and seriously address the concerns of Medway Arriva bus drivers.”
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.