12 September 2007

A second day of action

Mentioned on here last week was news that Stagecoach bus services in Chesterfield were to be disrupted following planned
strike action by both Trade Unions at the Stonegravels Depot in the town. Following the first day of action and despite Stagecoach drafting in managers, controllers and leading drivers, only 40 vehicles left the depot, rather than the normal 112 for a Friday, with Stagecoach committing to cover all their contractual obligations for home-to-school transport. Drivers are also instigating a work-to-rule, which has seen buses abandoned all over the town centre as a result of sloppy scheduling.

Very little has presented itself in terms of what drivers are asking for, what management have offered and any other potential long-term disruption to bus services in the town. Chesterfield's local paper, the Derbyshire Times, has very loosely covered the dispute, choosing to emphasise the fact that no evening services will operate when Stagecoach are now the smaller operator of evening buses in the town when compared to TM Travel of Staveley.

Last Friday drivers joined the picket line between 4am-5pm and, following a meeting in the adjacent pub to their depot at lunch time, decided to march to the town centre and back to emphasise their plight. Around 140 drivers joined the march, which brought considerable disruption to the town centre's traffic flow. Colleagues in the unions at the depot told me that not one single driver at Chesterfield who belongs to either union worked; they hope for the same to occur this coming Friday.

This comes in light of the very recent news that up to 2 million local government workers plan to stage co-ordinated strikes throughout the autumn following enforced pay rises of around 2%. One offer recently thrown out was a three-year deal worth just under 2.5%. Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show ran a section on Monday about how union membership has fallen across the board by 60% and yet only the RMT has seen numbers grow. It is unlikely that strikes in this sector of employment could cause disruption to public transport, though certainly council-owned bus companies may be feeling the pinch. Let's hope Stagecoach in Chesterfield resolve their dispute before further Fridays are disrupted.