Wednesday 5 October 2016

Ipswich Buses Industrial Action

It was announced yesterday that Ipswich Buses drivers are to stage a one day strike this coming Monday, 10th October. The reason cited is wages for new drivers, which is some 25% lower than that of established drivers. However I have been aware for sometime of unrest at Ipswich Buses and I'm sad but not surprised that relationships between management and unions have reached this low point.

However some of the figures are quite startling. According to the Ipswich Star two thirds of drivers have accepted an offer of £11.00 an hour, but it is the new driver rate of £8.66 which is the main bone of contention. The company has offered £8.81 an hour but the union wants £10ph.

Now it must be said that I would want a pretty high hourly rate to be persuaded to drive around Ipswich day in day out. But it's also worth comparing the rate Ipswich Buses drivers get compared to other operators. Rates around the region vary, I'm not going to name operators but I know of rates of £9ph, £10ph, £10.50ph, even an exceptionally low £8.08ph. I'm reliably informed that down in Kent the big operators pay between £10 - £11ph (I was on £3.31ph in 1987) and even in London where everything is so much more expensive and pressurised you'll be lucky to get £14ph. One Commercial Director I spoke to this afternoon confirmed it's fairly standard practice for new drivers to be on a lower rate for the first year or so. I couldn't be more against that practice. It should never be forgotten that bus drivers carry the most precious cargo there is - us! Our children, parents, grandmas, friends, spouses all entrust their lives to the skilled chaps and chapesses behind the wheel and the responsibility of that cargo doesn't change regardless of how long a driver has been on the company. Ironic that HGV drivers get considerably more than bus drivers yet who has the more valuable cargo?

Considering that the starter rate on Ipswich Buses is higher than some operators pay their established staff, and their enhanced rate is the highest in the region I can discover, then I am more and more convinced this dispute is about far more than just money. Having said that Ipswich Buses, like Hedingham are cancelling  services on a daily basis due to "driver shortages".A starter rate that far below the enhanced rate isn't going to do much to attract new drivers to the firm.

I would suggest that something has to be done to settle this dispute and quick. Unions are flexing muscles at the moment in many areas and we don't want this dispute to become another Southern Trains dispute, which is now so far down the line (sorry couldn't resist that) neither side can afford to give in now without losing a whole lot of credibility.

Ipswich Buses say they will run a skeleton service on Monday but cannot guarantee any one service. If there are any further developments I will of course publish them here, but keep an eye on Twitter as I will also retweet anything coming out of Ipswich Buses - which has been strangely quiet on the subject thus far. Follow me @busandtrainpage


  1. Sanders pay near enough the living wage - konect paid well when I was there (pre 2010), not sure if this changed when go ahead took over? Are they still the highest paid bus drivers in Norwich?

    1. Don't think so. To the best of my knowledge Konect pay £10ph and First Norwich pay £10.45ph.

  2. I follow IB on twitter and to be honest,it has been very quiet for nearly 2 weeks.They don't seem to be answering tweets at the moment either,which is unusual because they are normally pretty reliable at getting back to people.

  3. Currently what they are expecting to run on Monday should the strike go ahead

    Ipswich Buses Emergency timetable on Monday 10th October

    No buses will run on routes X1, 4, 11B, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 38, or 202.

    A normal timetable will apply on schoolday routes 11A, 18A, 501, 502, 914, 988 and all Carter's Coaches routes (92-96 etc). A slightly altered timetable will apply on route 98/98A.

    Park and Ride will operate approximately every 30 minutes. We intend to provide buses on routes X3, X5, 6, 6A, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15 and 15A. In some cases we hope to provide buses every 30 minutes between 0700 and 1900, but we may in fact have to run only once per hour if none of our drivers attend for work. The emergency timetable will be available on our website shortly.

    There will be no departures from Tower Ramparts after 1900. We will use double-decker buses on all passable routes so that we can move as many people as possible.

    There will be a standard fare of £1 for all journeys - passes will be valid as usual.
    We understand that Suffolk County Council is endeavouring to make alternative arrangements for rural school contracts and subsidised rural services which are not mentioned in the notes above and which we normally provide for SCC.

  4. Andrew Kleissner5 October 2016 at 23:14

    Interim emergency timetable now available on:

  5. Andrew Kleissner7 October 2016 at 13:14

    The strike has been called off!

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  7. Anglian website

    "Fares RevisionThe planned fares revision on Monday 10th October 2016 has been postponed to Sunday 23rd October 2016. Most fares will increase to reflect increased operating costs."

    They kept that one quiet...but inevitable...!

  8. I thought the dispute would be settled. Most are; industrial action rarely benefits anyone, and from what I can see in recent history the Eastern region has been pretty sensible.

    It doesn't sort the basic problem of getting a quart from a pint pot. Operators have to try and balance fairness to the operational staff (who are not just drivers), service quality, fares and state of the fleet. They get the balance different, but there is no optimum. Often they end up robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    Seeing it from the passenger point of view is hard. Which passengers, for a start? I think enthusiasts are a mixed blessing, they are atypical for a start. Normal people don't understand and aren't fascinated by the intricacies of the industry. Why should they be? But like the old British car industry, if it leaves them longer by the roadside than on the road, it's not an industry which is going to survive. It's day to day experience that counts, not so much the PR. But a bit of amusement never goes amiss, even if some of us are not amused. Is the operator that admits to problems better or worse than the one that doesn't? I think I know my answer and it's probably different from the rest of you.

    So I think the industry doesn't help itself by too often presenting itself as something for the cognoscenti; and the rest of us don't help by our addiction (I use the word deliberately) to the car which makes running a bus service the nearly-impossible job. The operators just don't need to make it even harder for themselves, if possible.

  9. As a driver myself strikes benefit no one.I like the Stagecoach way of dealing with strikes bring in drivers from all over the country.I remember one depot going on strike last year .A bus load of us turned up in a coach to route learn a week before.The strike was called off.