Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Strikes, the lesser of two evils.

Another strike, another opportunity for the media to completely misrepresent the situation! Some facts desperately need clearing up.

Lets get this out of the way first - I hate strikes.

I'm not one of these people that glories in militancy and itch to kick off and take a day off. When a strike happens, regardless of anything, it is a sign of a failure with industrial relations between the bosses and the workers. I'm pro-business (not in the Tory way I hasten to add) and no business will be sustainable and moral if it is unable to keep a team of people together who are capable of getting on together without resentment.

I don't want there to be problems at work. Problems at work can ruin lives. Whether it is bullying from co-workers, discrimination, or fear of losing that job, all these little things can make life unbearable for ordinary working people. I want everyone to be able to go to work, get on with everyone and be treated fairly, with dignity and able to put all their effort into working hard and getting their job done.

But what I hate more than strikes is when people in high places think they can take their workers for granted, treat them like dirt and walk all over them. When that happens, working people absolutely have to be prepared to stand up for themselves. In that circumstance, going on strike is the lesser evil and we should support them if they are a last resort and if all negotiations have failed.

Withdrawing ones labour is a fundamental human right. The moment that right is lost, we lose our freedom, because it's a green light for those in positions of power to start asking for more from their workers whilst giving them less, and we would be able to do nothing about it. That would start a race to the bottom for working conditions and we would all suffer as a result.

The fact that a group of workers can organise themselves and refuse to work gives them a bargaining power that without, they would be powerless to do anything at work. And what sort of democracy would we be if we left workers powerless to do anything to affect such an important part of their lives?

But what have the unions ever done for us?!

*Warning - contains strong language*

So let's look at exactly what is being said about this particular case in Jersey and what the truth actually is.

Despite misleading articles and an irrelevant fixation, this strike has absolutely nothing to do with pay, or technically even the hours they are allowed to work.

What it is to do with is the fact a promise was broken. Simple enough.

When a company is sold on to another, or, as in this case, a service provider is tendered out, it can be a ridiculously stressful time for the workers. They can be kept out of the know, not be a part of the negotiations and end up not even knowing whether they will still have a job by the end of it all.

But here, the workers, represented by their trade union Unite (which is also my union, which I totally recommend joining, it's far better than my utterly useless NUS membership...) negotiated with the Transport and Technical Services department to get assurances that whichever company won the tender, the workers could all keep their jobs and their current conditions, as they were. TTS agreed.

The arrangement for the transfer was to be the same as that provided in the Transfer Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006. So it was pretty clear what had to be done.

But what has kicked off this strike is the realisation that actually no such transfer has been properly arranged. TTS says it is because Connex and Unite didn't provide them with the documentation necessary, though they both claim that all of the information was provided initially for the tender information. I'm more inclined to believe Connex because their point of view makes much more sense.

If one business made a promise to another business and then broke it, they would get sued for breach of contract. How is the Connex workers going on strike any different?

The workers (I say workers, because it's all Connex workers, not just the bus drivers), are now being offered contracts that are different from the ones they currently have. This is the real point. This is not what they were promised. They were promised that their jobs were all guaranteed and things would stay as they are. You can argue over whether that's right or not, but it's an irrelevant argument, because it's not what was agreed.

Making then breaking promises is a poor way to conduct business. If TTS had no intention of securing a TUPE style transfer, then they should never have undertaken that commitment, and now their palming off the blame on others is just pathetic.

There's all sorts of nonsense in the media about them being able to work 70 hours a week (that's 10 hours a day, think it through for goodness sake...). No one works 70 hours a week.  Now, there may well be some health and safety issues for people driving for long hours, but that is a matter for statute to correct because no limits also apply to taxi drivers, coach drivers or drivers down at the harbour.

There is also talk about how the strike is technically illegal. True, you need to give 7 days notice for a strike. Problem there is that CTP were giving them until 12th October to accept their new contracts. So they physically didn't have enough time to give them notice. CTP had promised to meet workers representatives this weekend, but didn't. It's a dirty tactic to give a deadline like that and not allow enough time for negotiation and consultation so resolve the dispute. Striking is a last option.

But hey, if Churchill had had to give Hitler 7 days notice he was sending some Spitfires round, we probably wouldn't have won the second world war!

This may technically give Connex the right to sack the strikers. But they won't because it would be impossible to sack the entire work force, and they can't sack a section of them because there is no way of fairly distinguishing a group for sacking that wouldn't be considered unfairly discriminatory.

Of course, it really is a huge shame that this has to affect so many others in Jersey. The OAPs who can't get out and about without the buses. The kids who have real trouble getting to school. It really is a shame, but how could anyone expect to put aside their livelihood for others in that way? There comes a point where they just have to do what is best for themselves. I spend half the year in London where we regularly have public transport strikes, and we just get on with our day and find another way to get where we need to be. The price of riding your bike for a few days is worth paying if it means we live in a fairer society in which bosses aren't allowed to get away with breaking agreements with their workers.

When will working people realise that the reason they so often get such a rough deal is because they are tricked into fighting each other instead of fighting those above them?

I hope the strike is resolved as quickly as possible, and frankly, I think the TTS Minister should be ready to tender his resignation for doing such a poor and shambolic job over all this.

Finally, I just wanted to share a comment from our esteemed former Senator Jim Perchard who posted on the BBCs facebook page this comment earlier -

Of course I could spend hours dismantling this fascistic nonsense, but instead I'll just point out the comment my best friend James (a guy who I have huge admiration for and whose blunt way of putting a point across can instantly have me in fits of laughter) left him. The comment was "Hey Jim, I suppose you think all the bus drivers should just go top themselves, right?". Priceless!



  1. hi sam i am a bus driver and its good to see somebody can see the real story behind the tts spin.the so called "accredited media" are just a mouth piece for the gov.thank you for your time

    1. Thanks Anonymous. I actually have quite a few friends whose parents are bus drivers and have seen how worried these people have been over the whole situation.

      Anyone that thinks it's about greed just doesn't understand anything.

  2. get real. It is about the union elite seeking to protect their income from overtime.

    Join the 21st century Sam.

    1. Whether that is what the elite is doing or not is irrelevant.

      The fact is, months ago they were told that all their jobs would be automatically transferred to the new provider. Now they find out it's not the case.

      But anyway, this strike wasn't organised by the union, so how can it be the union elite?

    2. By Union elite I mean the drivers who get all the perks by virtue of their longstanding union membership.

      also, their jobs will be transferred, that's not the issue. It's the loss of an unsafe perk.

    3. No, you're wrong, the jobs aren't being automatically transferred. They're being offered jobs which they have to accept and also sign NEW contracts. That's not a transfer.

      It's also not a perk. All drivers (taxi, coach, harbour etc) have the same rights. It's not a perk if everyone has it.

    4. By 'perk' I mean the long standing practice of assigning overtime to the select few. It's well known that lucrative overtime is controlled by the union members. New staff are denied a fair rota system. It's an antiquated feature of unions that needs updating, like the practice of sick leave quotas (i.e. you have to be sick a certain number of days otherwise the union elite don't get as much overtime).

    5. Sam,

      CT Plus are a different legal entity to Connex. Surely all staff will have to sign a new contract anyway?

      They ARE all being offered jobs, on very similar terms, the issue is that CT Plus won't agree to excessive overtime and wants overtime to be assigned by Rota.

    6. I should be clear that I'm not assigning any blame to CTP.

      CTP are just doing what any business would do, and for that you can't really blame them. If they have a standard contract or working procedure, it's obvious that they'd want that to be the practice in their new venture.

      The problem is, when TTS were negotiating with them to take over the service, they should have made it a condition (in line with what they had promised the workers) that they honoured exactly the same conditions. CTP then could have weighed it up with everything else and decided what to do. It was unfair for TTS to not have made them sign up to that commitment when they had promised the workers that was the case. It was at that point that CTP could have said they didn't want to, offered what they would do, then TTS could go back to the workers to discuss it, and they may well have agreed it was good enough.

      As far as signing a "new" contract is concerned, the only thing that would be signed would presumably have been a word for word identical copy of their previous copy, except substituting the words "Connex" with "CTP". So it wouldn't really be a new contract.

    7. "So it wouldn't really be a new contract."

      I think it would as one of the parties is different?

  3. CT Plus are a fantastic modern company who will be great for this island and for the staff.

    The few are using the many to protect their privileged position.

    1. Certainly agree that CTP do looks pretty good, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what improvements they make.

      But it's such a shame that there has been this shambolic start because of TTS incompetence.

  4. Sir,

    It's well known that connex staff take compulsory sickness to allow other staff to do more overtime. That's why they blocked passing details to CT Plus.

    When the unions are prepared to reform and lose the outdated unfair practices of the last century then maybe they will get a bit more public support.

  5. Sam

    You don't hate strikes. Be honest. You live for them.

    1. I'm always honest on my blog. I meant every word I said.

    2. You even back strikes that the labour party condemns!!!

    3. I'm not sure which strikes Labour condemned. I remember hearing Labour front benchers specifically saying whilst they weren't actively supporting the strikes, they would also refuse to condemn them. Their position with the strikes last year was that both tables should get around the table and avoid the strike.

      Labour may be a party with trade union affiliation, but it's also a party that aims to represent working people who are not union members. Given that strikes affect non-union members, it's right for Labour to not take sides within their demographic they represent.

      I'm totally in favour of Labour not supporting strikes, nor condemning them.

    4. Both tables? Both PARTIES*


  6. I understand that Unite is not backing the strike?

    1. It's difficult, I suppose it depends what "backing the strike" means.

      They didn't organise it and host the ballot etc, so they didn't instigate it. But the union is there to represent the workers, so if the workers have had the initiative to act outside of union framework, the union will just work around that and carry on representing, which is what they're for.

  7. Sam

    I think you have totally missed the point with this one. It's very simple. The only sticking points are sickness and overtime. Some drivers are going to loose their union perk. That's it.

    You said no-one works 70 weeks? I think you need to join the real world Sam.

    I understand TTS were prepared to meet last weekend through JACS but the union did not reply to JACS request.

    At the end of the day a small number of people are holding the Island to ransom to protect an unfair and dangerous perk.

    1. Sorry but I don't agree at all and feel that I've already addressed this point. The sticking point is that they were promised TUPE and they're not getting TUPE and being held to ransom saying they have to sign the new contracts by Thursday or lose their jobs.

      I didn't say no-one works 70 hour weeks, I said bus drivers don't. Union representatives are echoing that point, saying it just doesn't happen.

      The "perk" may well be unfair and dangerous. But, as I've already said, there should be legislation on the matter because all other PVS licence holders are allowed to do the same.

      I'd actually completely support a limit on how long someone can be behind the wheel of a vehicle at work. But that's for legislation. If TTS sincerely wanted to reduce the hours they could work, why did they promise TUPE then? They should have negotiated with the unions months ago and brought it up as a proposition. Not sneak it in in this deceptive way.

    2. I don't think they have sneaked it in deceptively. They have made a mistake because they simply weren't aware of the facts.

      CT Plus were also not aware.

  8. Sir

    You dismiss the view that strikes should be made illegal as 'fascist', yet there are many sound reasons why this view has merit. It may not be the most popular view and it may not agree with your outdated socialist ideals but to dismiss it as fascist is childish at the very least. Thank good real fascism died with socialism and Marxism last century.

    Organisations have many stakeholders of which staff are but one. If one stakeholder can bring an organisation to its knees to put it's demands above all the other stakeholders then this is in my view against the public interest and should be illegal.

    Other means are available to work through disputes. Striking is nearly always used when all other means have failed. It rarely achieves anything better than the other means. In many cases all stakeholders are worse off including the staff.

    One of the many other stakeholders in this case is the children who travel on school buses. On balance CT Plus are putting their customers interest's above the interests of a handful of staff.

    With the ability to bring an organisation to its knees the power is in the hands of a small unrepresentative group of self-interested individuals.

    There is no room for this in the 21st century.

    That's my view. I accept others will likely disagree, but if they feel that my view makes me a fascist then there is no hope.

    1. Thanks for the comment. If anyone abuses you or unfairly calls you a fascist, rest assured it won't be published!

      I do agree that it's entirely regrettable when one group has to grind things to a halt. But I balance that out with the fact that it's not just the workers who are capable of doing that.

      I don't have much to criticise CTP for to be honest, it's mainly TTS that I have the problem with. If they agreed for a TUPE transfer with the workers, and then had got CTP to agree with that transfer, this would never have happened. Instead of arguing, we could all be looking forward to a new bus service and no one would be inconvenienced.

    2. Imagine if the passengers were able to boycott the buses for months to demand lower fairs (they can't because there is no alternative)?

      How would that feel for the workers as their jobs and salaries became unsustainable?

      In reality, workers have more power than any other stakeholder, and they abuse it.

  9. Perhaps the workers could sanction the publication of depersonalised data on hours worked and sick time.

    That would clear things up?

    1. It would be helpful. Though I'd imagine they're a bit busy for that.

      I'd have thought some information along those lines should have been included in the tender information. Could be wrong though.

    2. You are wrong. It was sought by CT Plus but the drivers blocked it.

      This is because it shows a) a small group of senior drivers are doing all the overtime, and b) they are working up to 69 hours per week.

      CT Plus want to limit hours to 54 and allocate overtime on a rota basis.

      The data would also show higher than average sick time. No surprise there.

  10. For the first time ever I've had to block more than one comment for being abusive without merit.

    It's fine if you hate unions and it's fine if you think I'm talking utter rubbish, but I'm absolutely not going to publish any comment that only contains a few words of insult and not actually contributing any thoughts to the discussion.

    1. Yet you retweeted your best friends james' comment calling perchard a C*%T yesterday?

      Is 'hypocrite' an abusive word?

    2. And I also directly called Perchard a dinosaur.

      Difference is that both of those tweets made an attempt to justify the comment.

      I'm talking about blocking comments that only say "bus drivers are idiots" etc. If they said "for this reason, this reason and this reason, I think the bus drivers are being idiots over this", I'd publish it. There's a difference I think.

  11. Also, just thought I'd share a funny altercation with Jim Perchard on Twitter.

    Jim Perchard - "Give these Connex staff until tomorrow at midnight to return to work - if they fail to turn up - sack them - this is an illegal strike"

    Sam Mézec - "@JLPerchard Back to 1800s Victorian working standards right? Christ you're a dinosaur. Glad I'm not employed by you!"

    Jim Perchard - "@SamMezec please don't insult me young man"

    Sam Mézec - "@JLPerchard Funny you should say that, the first time I met you, you actually insulted me! You probably don't remember though."

    Sam Mézec - "@JLPerchard But I won't be taking lectures from the man who told @StuartSyvret to "top himself"."

    1. Sad thing is Sam, Perchard's view probably enjoys much more public support than yours

    2. Hilarious to hear states members implying that they work 60 + hours a week. What a load of rubbish.

    3. Anonymous, I'm not a spokesperson for public opinion. But democracy isn't about just doing what the majority wants, it's about broader principles than that, and striking is part of democracy.

    4. How can the ability of a small group of self interested people to hold a wider group of people to ransom with far reaching effects on the wider public who have no influence on the outcome be democratic?

      I passionately believe in democracy and will strive to achieve it in this island but striking my friend has nothing in common with democracy.

    5. You don't think it's democracy to refuse to be forced to do something if you are treated unfairly? Bizarre definition!

    6. Anyone can play that game. You think its democracy for a small group to hold disproportionate power over a larger group who have no influence on the situation?

  12. "Despite misleading articles and an irrelevant fixation, this strike has absolutely nothing to do with pay, or technically even the hours they are allowed to work.

    What it is to do with is the fact a promise was broken. Simple enough."

    Please don't try and insinuate that this isn't entirely about pay and conditions.

    Would they still be striking if this "broken promise" had led to a change that would leave them better off? I think we both know the answer to that and it undermines your case that there is a moral principal driving this.

    Whilst I agree whole-heartedly that promises should be kept, to try and argue that this is not about the money is naaive.

    1. You miss the point.

      When there is a change to a contract, it has to be AGREED. If CTP want to offer a different contract, the workers must decide whether to agree or not, and negotiate. If they offer a better contract, they are entitled to come to an agreement that accepts it. But one party cannot unilaterally change the terms without the agreement of the other party. CTP are trying it on, the workers are entitled to refuse. If they're not compelled to accept a worse contract, why should they?

      But since you agree that promises should be kept, I presume you thus support this strike then, since this whole series of events is down to a broken promise?

    2. Any party can change whatever terms and conditions they like until such time as those conditions are signed and legally binding or there are legally enforeable restrictions on the contract being changed prior to signing.

      If a change has been made to a legally enforecable contract I suggest the bus drivers or their representatives take the appropriate legal action.

      Given that this hasn't been done I can only only assume this is not the case and this is still up for negotiation. All the moral holier-than-thou posturing in the world will not change the fact that business doesn't work on "promises". As an aside as a Solicitor you will probably be grateful for this fact in maintaining your wage through your life!

      Having said that I agree the drivers are under no obligation to accept a worse contract than they think they are worth. I support their right to strike if done legally (jury's out on that it appears) just as I support any subsequent reaction the strike allows their employers to legally take or their potential futures employer's decision to offer them any work at all.

  13. Sam please elaborate on striking being a human right.

    Is it a right if you are an emergency worker? lifeguard? carer at an old peoples home? etc

    If, hypothetically, a strike led to cancelling the olympics at the last minute, would you support such action on the basis of human rights?

    1. Emergency workers going on strike is clearly a lot more serious than certain other professions going on strike. But many of those professions are in the public sector (firemen, prison guards etc) so the employers don't have a profit motive driving how they treat their employers, and because the risks of strike are far greater, they are less likely to put the workers in a position that would make them want to strike. But when they do strike (as has happened in London with firefighters a couple of years ago, and I think some doctors did something too recently), the workers themselves often organise a contingency plan to make sure the disruption doesn't harm certain people.

      The fact there is so much to lose, is exactly why workers and employees need to keep up a friendly dialogue.

      In those circumstances, it depends on who has done what. If the workers used their position to blackmail their employees to give them things they don't deserve, then I would never support it. But if the employers used it as a chance to abuse the workers, thinking they wouldn't have the balls to strike, I'd certainly have sympathy with the workers.

    2. But you don't support someones actions just because it's a human right. Freedom of speech is a human right, but I don't automatically support everything everyone says. Likewise, whilst striking is a right, if the strike is unfair, I wouldn't support it.

    3. Can a human right be conditional? Who decides?

    4. Sam, in this day and age, more often than not the profit motive drives employers to treat their workers with respect.

    5. Human rights are unconditional (as in, they apply to everyone), but the rights can be "qualified" instead. And obviously some rights can contradict each other, and one has to take precedence. E.g. freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination can contradict each other, but freedom from discrimination comes first.

  14. It seems the drivers only have 13% support from the public.

    Their strike has no effect on CT Plus (its not their staff).

    Connex don't care, there leaving soon.

    Now the proposed limit of 54 hours is in the public domain parents will never allow CT Plus to remove this clause.

    The drivers are fuelling their unpopularity by fighting a hopeless cause for the benefit of a few.

    Everyone's a loser.

  15. The bus workers are in TWO unions 'Unite' and 'Unison'.

    That just about sums up this terrible farce.

  16. Sir

    No-one has yet commented on what I see as one of the most interesting side issues in this whole debate.

    If staff are currently doing lots of overtime, and if this practice is restricted in the future, then more jobs for drivers will be created.

    This is surely a good thing?

    1. I agree, it would be. The problem is that's not what TTS promised. Which is a shame. But there we go.

      When TTS makes that argument, they are being disingenuous. If they believed that, they would have put it to the workers months and months ago. Not promise them TUPE and then all of a sudden justify breaking that promise now.

  17. Sam

    I'd be interested in your view of what the solution should be that would be acceptable to all parties and capable of implementation?

    Bear in mind that CTP have said that they will not back down on the overtime requirement?

    1. It's tough. You can totally understand why CTP don't want to back down. After all, the workers demands are not what they signed up for. But then, you can also understand the workers not wanting to back down because it's not what they were promised either.

      I understand that the deadline for accepting the job offers has been postponed a week. That, in my view, should mean either a full or partial end to the strike at the moment. It means more time round the table.

      As for what my view of the solution is, well I'm neither a bus driver nor a member of CTP, so I'm not really entitled to a view. When they negotiate, hopefully they'll come up with an arrangement that both find acceptable. If the workers want to accept certain conditions, it's up to them, nothing to do with what I recommend, same goes for CTP. It's up to them to find a compromise. Since it's neither the workers nor CTP that are in the wrong here (it's TTS) that might make it difficult. But both parties have to be mature and pragmatic.

    2. If TTS are in the wrong, can they do anything now to put right that wrong? Do they have a role to play? What do the strikers want from them?

      I'm not sure what exactly the strikers expect from TTS?

    3. Owning up would be a start. Deputy Lewis put on a shameful performance in the States today, fuelling the anti-worker rhetoric and completely rejecting any blame he had for promising TUPE and not making that a condition for CTP.

  18. The breaking news is that the strike has been called off as of first thing tomorrow morning. Excellent news!

    CTP and the workers are entering mediation with JACS to try and sort it out. Hopefully they'll find an arrangement that works for all of them.

    Still Lewis won't own up to the fact he messed up though. I think he should lose his job over it to be honest.

    1. Should all people who make a mistake at work or just him? What about a driver who makes a mistake after a 20 year faultless career? Sounds like double standards.

    2. There's a difference between an honest mistake and incompetence.

      For example, I didn't actually make any negative comments about Senator Ozouf for the whole police HQ issue. Because when the States got gazumped, I saw that as just an accident.

      The difference here, was that Lewis was incompetent. He promised one thing and then didn't make it a condition. That's not an appropriate way to conduct business.

    3. The States was not simply gazumped over Lime Grove House.

      Senator Ozouf, who knows nothing about property development, dismissed his in-house advisers, consulted a friend who did a bit of property developing, and decided to make a lower offer on deal that had been painstakingly negotiated. The owners took umbrage at being treated in such a cavalier fashion, having no particular need to sell since this this was part of a pension pot. The consequence was that when a new party entered the market and was prepared to transact quickly they sold.

      The States lost the opportunity to acquire a freehold for substantially less than its value with the current lease. The States are now looking for a new location for a Police Station and have been forced to go next door into a dreadful pocket sized site. The Senator has yet to be held accountable for this manifest incompetence and hubris.

  19. Interesting bit I saw on facebook -

    This was posted on Facebook last night from a friend of one of the staff at Connex so straight from the horses mouth so to speak. YOU NEED TO READ IT!!!!!

    Taking this sort of action was the last thing we (as staff) wanted to do (and it is ALL staff not just drivers)... the problem is that an agreement was made in 2001 that whoever ran the service would abide to a TUPE agreement until such time as it becomes law in Jersey (this has been law in the U.K. since the 80's, and as usual Jersey employment law still hasn't caught up) this protects the terms & conditions of all employees of a company in this type of situation, ie. new contractor taking over a service with resident skilled staff, so that their STANDARD rates of pay & working conditions are preserved, and this is to apply to CT Plus as well.

    This does not include any promises of overtime just a continuation of time served for sickness benefit, holiday entitlement, periods of notice (both sides) & for things like Basic hourly rates & minimum working hours per week (39). This also formed the bulk of the conditions of tender that over 20 UK & European transport companies submitted.... yet after months of promising to stick to THEIR rules we are told that there will be no transfer that we would need to reapply for our promised jobs and that all staff would be starting as if new employees, some loosing 10-20+ years of service, also giving them the right to terminate your employment with out reason within the 26 week probationary period.

    The States (TTS) have been telling nothing but lies (check out any news report from June/ July where they promised to transfer) and the amount they say we earn just seems to be increasing hour by hour from £30k to £55-60k to the latest I've heard £70k!!!!!!!!! perhaps we should send a bill to them for the shortfall in our wages :) lol .... unfortunately for them we have all of this in black & white and they are now trying to shift the blame as this could be potentially very expensive for them (the same thing is happening in the UK with the west coast main line & looks set to cost the UK Gov £40 million +) and has the potential of leaving the island with NO BUS SERVICE WHATSOEVER in January if they are found to have flawed the tender agreement like the UK, as the only people who will have buses in the island will be Connex, and lets face it after the way they have been treated recently no one would be surprised if they just laughed at TTS as they left!..

    1. Interesting development.


    2. Ha Ha, "from a friend of one of the staff at Connex"

      Not quite straight from the horses mouth then!

    3. For clarification, I didn't say it was straight from the horses mouth, that was in the bit I copied and pasted.

      As for the interesting development, I don't think it's interesting at all to be honest.

      CTP are just acting as you'd expect a business to. They have their own conditions and standards and want them applied. Surprise, surprise! The problem is with TTS. They never made it a condition for CTPs takeover that they would honour the workers current conditions, despite promising the workers that was what would happen.

  20. Sam

    I would be interested in your view on the following:

    if it is the case that:
    - unions, not the company, control who has overtime and favour longer serving members
    - unions control shift rotas
    - the above result in some staff working long hours whilst unions block part time staff from being made full time
    - unions prevent hiring more staff in order to maintain overtime

    Are the above practices that you would give your support to?

    1. The flaw in that argument is that all the bus drivers have been on strike. Not just the senior and longer serving ones. If the less senior drivers were getting such a rough deal, you have to ask why they are then supporting what is going on?

      If the minority were taking advantage of the majority, they couldn't have held such an effective strike.

      At the end of the day, I want all businesses to work in a way that both the employees and the employers find acceptable. If both sides are happy to agree to a contract that involves both of them compromising, then great.

    2. Nicely avoided Sam.

    3. Wasn't avoided at all. I answered it very directly. It's none of either my or your business how they choose to arrange their affairs, so long as both parties are treating each other fairly and coming to agreements they find acceptable.

    4. Actually, it is my business if it affects me or the service I get from the bus service (which it clearly does). Even more so when passenger safety is involved.

    5. You're not a party to the contract so you don't have a seat at the negotiating table.

      Whether a Union or the employer makes x or y decision is nothing to do with you. After all, they are both capable of actually making the same decisions aren't they?

      If you have a problem with the hours, it's a matter for you to lobby your States Members to introduce statutory limits across the board. What's in the bus drivers contracts is none of your or my business.

    6. It's not about a 'contract'. You said it wasn't my business how they choose to arrange their affairs. What nonsense. It is if it directly affects me. Which it does.

    7. Sam, you clearly have no understanding of hoe unions work sometimes. I would bet you a large some of money that some Connex staff did not want to strike and do not support this grievance at all. The reason they have taken part is fear of retribution from their union colleagues for tears to come. I have personally seen this type of bullying occur within a large local business. You'd be surprised what the threat of being "blacked" can make some people do.

  21. "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."

  22. Are you sure TTS 'promised' tupe? TTS seem to be saying that tupe was conditional on the staff allowing Connex to pass over data required as part of the tupe process. The staff blocked this so tupe was never agreed.

    If that's the case then much of your argument is flawed?

    1. TTS have said that, and both the workers and, crucially, Connex have said that it is nonsense. All the information required for TUPE had to be supplied for the tender documents, so all the data was in their files anyway.

    2. Sam, you are obviously an highly intelligent and articulate young man and your debating skills are excellent, you should be a Union rep or a politician :)

      However the main stay of your arguments here seem to centre on the Connex workers being promised TUPE, you mention it no less than 8 times.

      There is no TUPE legislation in Jersey and there never has been, so how could this of been promised?

      TUPE is a highly complexed and contentious bit of UK legislation forced upon the UK by the European Union, I believe it was introduced in 2006 and not as the bus drivers friend on facebook stated 'since the 80's'.

      TUPE has been a major cause of industrial disputes in the UK, just like this one, and the definition of 'terms & conditions' is still being debated and redefined in legislation and litigation.

      The facebook friend stated that in '2001 that whoever ran the service would abide to a TUPE agreement until such time as it becomes law in Jersey'.

      This is clearly impossible as TUPE never existed in 2001 and TUPE agreements don't last 11 years, they generally last for two to three years negotiated with staff or union, then the employer is free to negotiate it's own terms and conditions, they don't last forever.

      What they were promised in 2001 (after they went on strike) was the transfer of all staff on the same terms and conditions and that is what they have been promised this time.

      The real debate is not TUPE as I hope you will accept, but the definition of 'Terms & Conditions'.

      That needs to be negotiated between the staff, union(s) and CT Plus.

      There are obviously some things that need to be clarified, it would not be correct that the drivers past service would not count and they would all be on a 26 week probation, that to me would be the major stumbling block that CT Plus must drop, if it is true of course.

      However the working practises of this bus company, Union approval before recruiting new full-time staff, senior drivers getting all the over-time and cushy shifts, people taking weeks off sick when there is nothing wrong with them so their mates can get the over-time, is quite frankly from the 1960's and have no place in the 21st century, and what makes it worse is that it is being funded by tax-payers money, £7 million of it!

      I would actually say that it is bordering on wages fraud.

      The senior drivers and their union have a nice little cartel going here, earning some of them large sums of money, albeit at the expense of their junior colleagues, no wonder they want to hold on to it so desperately. But will their junior and part-time colleagues stick by them?

      George Orwell's Animal farm comes to mind, We are all equal, but some are more equal than others.

    3. Hi Anonymous, thanks for the comment.

      I'm not sure if you meant more by it or it was just an unintentional choice of words but no European Union legislation is "forced" on the UK. The European Parliament is directly elected by the people so, all EU legislation is consented to.

      The comment from facebook was actually correct that TUPE has been in force since the 80s. The current legislation from 2006 comes from a 2001 EU directive, but it was just an update on the former TUPE that was from 1981. This is a pretty standard thing that happens in all legislatures, after a while they update or consolidate legislation. So TUPE in one form or another has existed for decades.

      But you are right that most (but not all) EU rules don't apply in Jersey, and UK legislation only applies to Jersey if it specifically says so.

      I accept my wording could have been clearer, but I haven't at any point suggested that TUPE is applicable in Jersey. What I was trying to say was that TTS and the workers agreed that the principles of TUPE were to be honoured.

      TUPE may not be legally automatic as it is in Europe, but if the parties wish to undertake it's principles then they are entitled to.

      The rest of your complaints may well be valid, but TTS should have been having those arguments at the time they were discussing it with the workers. Instead they promised all the terms and conditions would stay exactly as they are, when really they were behind the scenes with CTP changing them.

      That can't be right.

      I can totally understand that lots of people have problems with drivers working for long hours etc, and I agree that it shouldn't happen. But I can't side against the workers here when they were never offered the argument in the first place.

      To me that's what it's all about. If TTS and CTP wanted to change the terms all along, they may well have had an excellent argument too, and I hope that in the current negotiations the workers concede some of them. But they should have been honest and inclusive of the workers in that process. Instead they made a hollow promise and brushed them aside so that they wouldn't get in the way.

      That sort of action is always bound to lead to a strike.

  23. Yes I agree a more open approach would have been better and this has been very badly handle by TTS. I also feel sorry for CT Plus as they have been used as a pawn to facilitate TTS policy. We don't have the most highly qualified politicians, they always seem to do things this way.

    You mention both Connex and the Unions deny any of this has been going on and some staff don't earn the huge figures circulated.

    There is a very easy way the union and Connex can resolve the matter if as they maintain TTS is seeling mistruths to fulfil an agenda, that's to publish all the data for their workers over the last year to include:-

    Lenth of service, wage earned, over-time hours worked, stand-by shifts worked and amouth of sick days/weeks taken, obviously removing any personal information, names, job discription etc.

    This both Connex and the Unions have refused to do.

  24. Here we go again,

    Truth, transparency, accountability, by Government by the unions and possibly by us.

    Would life be not so much better for everyone if that was the norm in life.

    When will you Jersey idiots start holding government, unions to account when you are broke ?

  25. I don't think the term 'Jersey idiots' is very nice. Anyway I was born in Guernsey, I am only an imported Jersey idiot.

    It is actually quite difficult to hold the Jersey government to account due to the electoral system, which is designed to stop wholesale change of the ruling political elite.

    They have recently voted to reduce the number of senators who are the only truly democratically elected representatives as they are elected on an Island wide mandate, most constables are elected unopposed, last time was the first election for constable of St Ouen for a hundred years. The people of Jersey don't even get a vote for chief minister.

    They will say, but you vote in the people who does elect the CM, so you indirectly get a vote, but ask any States member who they will vote for as chief minister when they come up for election and you won't get a straight answer from any of them.

    I am fast coming to the conclusion that by voting you are just adding legitimacy to the sham that they call Jersey democracy.

    Don't vote, it just encourages them!

    1. I'd actually argue that the Senators aren't that democratic.

      Any vote done by first past the post isn't going to be representative. The Senatorial election would only be properly democratic if there was a weighted voting system.

      As for not voting because it just encourages them. Absolute load of rubbish. I despair whenever I see smart, articulate and clued up people say they won't vote. Abstaining does nothing but make things worse.

      Voting for the current lot certainly does add legitimacy. But at every election there are plenty of people who are not part of that establishment who you can vote for instead.

      Out of interest, did you write in to the electoral commission and put your point of view to them?

  26. Hello Sam

    I know you are probably correct that you should vote, but you have the optimism of youth on your side, after a while life wears you down when you realise that your vote makes very little difference.

    Even people who seem honourable with good intentions soon change when elected. As you mention, the first past the post systems seems to attract the wrong kind of people to politics, those that are intoxicated by power, and will do and say virtually anything to hang on to it when obtained.

    Our politicians in Jersey now are trying to incorporate many of the States departments so that they can then borrow money on the open market to fund infrastructure projects without having to raise taxes, exactly what politicians all over Europe have been doing for decades, which has now come home to roost. I guess it doesn't bother me so much as it is your generation or your children that will have to pay that money back, but how irresponsible, intergenerational robbery?

    I hope I am wrong, but in years to come you may look back on these conversations and say 'That guy was right, your vote doesn't make a difference'.

    No I didn't bother in account of the afore mentioned apathy.

    “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.” Jean-Claude Juncker