Sheffield Trade Union Council has revealed drivers at First are calling for an official strike ballot because of concerns over the hours they are driving.The company has confirmed talks are ongoing with the union.
Martin Mayer, secretary of Sheffield Trade Union Council, said a ballot last Thursday showed 93 per cent in favour of an official strike ballot because of concerns over drivers having to drive up to 5.5 hours without a break.
Mr Mayer, a former bus driver at the company, added: “Bus users will be horrified to know that bus drivers – who are key workers – are being forced to work such long hours, This is a stressful job and it’s hard driving a bus for up to five-and-a-half hours without a break, often with no access to toilets.
“We are calling on First Bus to respect the drivers’ wishes to return to their previous scheduling agreement. This would certainly be a better way to rectify their driver shortage and restore reliability – which in turn would help build back patronage.”
It is understood a temporary suspension of local scheduling was agreed during the pandemic, but was due to end last month. It is understood that has not happened, leading to a ballot.
Nigel Eggleton, managing director at First South Yorkshire said the firm was in discussions with Unite on several points relating to drivers’ terms and conditions of employment.
He said: “One of the benefits and attractions to the job of being a bus driver is the flexibility and variety of shift patterns available to suit people’s needs. Within each shift, portions of driving varies from two to 5.5 hours driving to all corners of the city and its surrounding landscape which is another attraction to the job.
New bus drivers recruited to help Sheffield shortage
“As everyone is aware there is a national shortage of drivers, not just in the bus industry but also across logistics and retail/online delivery services which is also having an impact on our business. On a positive note, I am pleased to report that we have a flourishing intake of new recruits who are presently in our training school and soon to be released into service which will help with the situation.
“We have always had a strong relationship with our Unite representatives and I’m confident that we can come to a resolution to some of their points, we must all however be mindful that our main objective is the long term security of jobs and the continuation of delivering a comprehensive network of bus services for our customers.”
The following buses are cancelled today due to driver shortages
Service 25: 08:45 Bradway to Woodhouse
Service 88: 17.43 Ecclesfield-Bents Green- Ecclesfield
Service 52: 11.10 Morrisons-High Green-Morrisons
SL (Supertram link) leaving middlewood at 17.05,18.05,18.55
Stagecoach Service 52 will not be serving Badger Road between 09:00 and 16:00 due to ongoing re-surfacing works. Buses will be diverting via Beaverhill Road in both directions.
First Bus (Service number; From; To; Departure time):