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Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Ensign Family Values

Last night I received a message from Ross Newman, Director of just about everything at Ensignbus right now. He showed me a letter that had been sent to all the staff at Ensign. Regular readers will know the high esteem I hold Ensign in. If there's one thing I am proud this blog has achieved it's getting to know and be welcomed by these guys. The letter moved me to tears.

I asked Ross if I could publish the letter as with all the negative news about the way companies like Virgin, Wetherspoons and Sports Direct have treated their staff I thought it was important that as much of the world see how it should be done, and that there are companies who do treat their staff with compassion and huge respect.

I'm happy to say Ross has agreed to let me publish the letter. I urge all of you to publicise this post to as many as you can. This is how it's done. Thank you.


Today’s letter to everyone:

It’s fair to say the last few days have been like nothing we have ever known before. We understand the importance of sharing any updates we can but are mindful not to put out news that isn’t confirmed or is liable to change before being implemented so let me take this opportunity to bring you as up to date as we can.

Firstly, the all to obvious bad news. Being a fully commercial operation with no contracts that continue to pay even if we are not running our revenue has been decimated.

Private hires have dropped to zero with school trips, weddings and social gatherings all cancelled.

Service work saw revenue drop by around 60% before we went to an emergency timetable on Monday 23, with schools closed and businesses shuttered, clearly the service is now only for those that are key workers and need to travel and by operating it we are assisting them.

Bus sales are all on hold. Every operator in the U.K. has dozens of spare buses in their yards or have suspended their operations completely. Either way they don’t need replacement vehicles at this moment in time.

And now the good news, which I’m afraid is somewhat in short supply. The company was in a strong position before this chaos descended upon us. We have received positive soundings of support from the council towards the continued operation of the emergency timetable and Amazon have increased their requirements for both social distancing and extra staff needs.

Our priority, first and foremost is ensuring everyone’s safety and as such many workers have been sent home due to their own underlying medical conditions, their ability to be able to work from home, or simply as we want to reduce risk to you and others by having less people about.

Of course we know that the lack of work is of course a real concern to all of you and we want to do everything we can to ensure no employee at Ensign suffers undue financial hardship. As such everyone will be paid as normal this week and going forwards from then staff working as part of the skeleton team will be paid their wages as normal and in full for all hours worked.

Staff that we currently have no work for will be put on the ‘furloughed list’. This will allow us to claim back a proportion of your contractually based hours. However, we want to go further than that and have therefore provided more comfort as best as we can to try and further assist you and your families at this tough time. Therefore all furloughed staff will earn either 85% of their salary or 85% of their contracted hours. So, for example if you are on a 40 hour contract the government would assist us with paying 32 of those hours and we have added another two hours on top. Thus a 40 hour contracted worker on furlough will receive 34 hours pay. Obviously this pro-rata’s higher or lower based on your contracted minimum hours.

We believe that with the mortgage and tax holidays now available, no travelling or socialising costs etc. this level of income means you and your families can weather the storm with security.

Those of you that have been sent home without work will be added to the furlough list. Others of you will have been contacted by your line manager to explain the situation, others will remain working from home or indeed part of the team still ‘operating as normal’.

Years of operating a tight ship on costs and waste has put us in the position where it is possible for us to sustain this extra support for some time but should this shutdown last for an extended period we will of course have to review the situation again but we all hope dearly that does not become necessary.

It is often said that Ensign is a family and never have we felt that more keenly than in the last few days.  We have been overwhelmed and humbled by the offers of help and assistance from staff and can only thank you for the kind words which certainly helped stiffen our resolve to find a way through this. On a personal level Peter remains at home shielded due to being in a vulnerable age group, whilst Steve remains in isolation for a few more days after his youngest daughter showed symptoms.

It may well be the largest crisis we have ever had to deal with but Ensign has won many wars over the years and we have absolutely no intention of losing this one.

In these trying times the most critical thing is to keep family safe and for us that is a large family, the Ensign family. We remain committed to doing all we can to get through this and come out the other side stronger than ever before.

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