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Drivers' roster: Arriva explains, GWU urges drivers to go to work tomorrow

The bus drivers during their protest this afternoon.

The bus drivers during their protest this afternoon.

The GWU this evening appealed to all Arriva bus drivers to go in to work according to their roster tomorrow morning.

In a statement, it said it had been assured by Arriva in an eight-hour meeting yesterday that the current rosters would be changed within two weeks.

The union said that in current circumstances, it was satisfied with the agreement reached with Arriva. It had been impossible to change the rosters by tomorrow but, the union said, it had negotiated  compensation of €35 for those drivers who were required to work a 12-hour split shift.

The union said it had also been agreed that the company would consult it on the new roster.

Almost 200 drivers this afternoon protested over the new roster and threatened that they would not go in to work tomorrow and would stop buses from starting the service (see separate story at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20110702/local/angry-bus-drivers-again-threaten-not-to-work-tomorrow.373525 )

The union in its statement explained that the bus drivers had agreed on Thursday that it would represent them in the talks with Arriva. It said the absolute majority of the drivers understood what had been agreed and would go in to work tomorrow morning.

In appealing to all bus drivers to go to work, the union urged them not to let anyone divide them. It also promised that if anomalous shift hours came up, it would make fresh representations to the company.

ARRIVA EXPLAINS

Arriva Malta in a statement explained that yesterday it met representatives of the General Workers’ Union for constructive discussion about issues raised by a number of drivers on the shift structures planned for the new public transport operation.

"We understood from the union representatives that the changes we intend to introduce, accommodated and satisfied in full the complaints of their members. We also made public that we intend to suitably compensate employees who will work split shifts during the month of July," the company said.

It explained that split shifts do not mean a longer shift than the nine hours agreed to. For example, the shift might have the first half starting at 8.00, finishing at noon, with free time to return home or do whatever they like, returning for the second part of the shift between 3.30 and 8.30 p.m.

"It should be noted that split shifts are very common in public transport environments," Arriva said.

"I would like to reiterate to drivers that Arriva Malta’s planned rosters are fully compliant with legal requirements and in line with the contracts of employment that they have entered into," Keith Bastow, Managing director, Arriva Malta, said.

"However, the rosters are considered to be of a temporary nature – they do contain slightly more split shifts than anticipated and we have committed to revising them in the coming weeks. Indeed yesterday we acknowledged the feedback raised by the General Workers’ Union and our plans to revise the shift patterns have been brought forward to the end of July."

He also pointed out that Arriva had received no formal intention of industrial action. All employees were therefore expected to report for duty as rostered.

"I trust that, upon reflection, all drivers will realise that this represents a fair resolution to what is a very short-term solution,"Mr Bastow said. 

"Our employees views are very important to us, and there are a number of channels and procedures in place through which employees can raise any questions, concerns or grievances with us directly. I remain totally impressed by the level of commitment and enthusiasm shown during training by the majority of our newly recruited drivers and am confident that with support they will become the backbone of this transformational change to public transport.

"The focus of the Arriva Malta team remains firmly on delivering the new bus services to the public of Malta and Gozo tomorrow."

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