Wilts and Dorset bus workers to strike after driving-hours talks fail
RMT: January 2 2008
MORE THAN 375 RMT bus drivers at six Wilts and Dorset depots will begin the first of four separate days of strike action at a minute after midnight tonight after last-ditch talks failed to resolve a long-running dispute over excessive driving hours and imposed rosters.
RMT members at Blandford, Bournemouth, Lymington, Poole, Ringwood and Swanage depots will strike for 24 hours from 00:01 tomorrow, (Thursday January 3). Strike action is also scheduled for Tuesday 8, Wednesday 16 and Monday 21 January.
The dispute centres on the company's failure to accept that drivers should be rostered for no more than four-and-a-half hours' continuous driving.
"Our reps went into talks again last Friday hoping that two massive votes for strike action would have shown Wilts and Dorset that our members are serious about winning sensible and safe rosters," RMT general secretary Bob Crow said today.
"We have done everything we could to try to negotiate a settlement, but the company has once more let its drivers and passengers down by trying to keep its head buried in the sand.
"We suspended action in the summer in good faith to talk, but right up to last Thursday's meeting the company has failed to budge an inch and has continued to impose rosters.
"Our members have voted twice by ten-to-one margins to take action over what is a simple issue of the health and safety, and it is time that Wilts and Dorset responded by negotiating seriously.
"The company might think that is acceptable for drivers responsible for passenger safety to drive for more than four-and-a-half hours without a break, but we do not and I would hope that most Wilts and Dorset passengers don't either.
"We have run out of other options and I hope that Wilts and Dorset passengers will support the stand we are making for their and our members' safety.
"As ever we remain available for talks, but the stonewalling must stop and tomorrow's strike goes ahead," Bob Crow said.