Circular No: NP/033/19
TO ALL BRANCHES & REGIONAL COUNCILS.
Our Ref: R10/1
20th February 2019
Bus Drivers’ (Working Hours on Local Routes) Bill
I write to update members on the union’s campaign to regulate the hours worked by local bus drivers, in line with those worked by long distance passenger and freight drivers.
The Bus Drivers (Working Hours on Local Routes) Bill was introduced in the Commons on Wednesday 13th February by Matt Western, Labour MP for Leamington & Warwick. The motivation for the Bill was a tragic incident in which two people were killed and many seriously injured in Coventry city centre in October 2015 when a double decker bus driven by a driver who had worked excessive hours drove off the road and crashed into a super market front. The 77-year-old driver had worked a 75-hour week in the previous week and was half way through an 11-hour shift when this terrible incident occurred.
At present, it is legal for a local bus driver to work 130 hours over two weeks, with only a half an hour break after 5.5 hours driving, whereas long-distance bus or lorry drivers are legally restricted to 56 hours driving a week or 90 hours over two consecutive weeks. The Bill calls for local bus drivers’ hours to be harmonized with those applying to long distance road transport in order to end the dangerous and counter-productive culture of long working hours for bus drivers.
The current regulations permit bus drivers a 30-minute break after 5.5 hours behind the wheel which is frequently shortened or prevented altogether by congestion or other factors beyond the drivers’ control. The Bill also sets out the need for reforms of mandatory driver rest breaks and for any reforms not to leave bus drivers out of pocket.
The policies of the Coalition and Conservative Governments since 2010 have led to 8,000 bus drivers losing their jobs, bus fares in England (outside of London) increasing at over twice the rate of average earnings and over 3,300 bus services in England and Wales reduced, altered or withdrawn.
Added to this, bus drivers work nearly six hours a week more than average workers to sustain their incomes at a reasonable level. RMT continue to support regulations which prevent that, but which also ensure that bus drivers are paid properly for the essential public service they provide.
We will continue to work with Matt Western and MPs in the RMT Parliamentary Group to apply political pressure on the Government to adopt the reforms proposed in the Bill.
I would be grateful if you could bring the contents of this circular to the attention of members in your branch and you will be kept updated with all further developments.