Isle of Man TT festival bus strike proposed

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Bus drivers could stage a 12-day strike during the Isle of Man's TT festival if a settlement cannot be reached with the government, a union says.

Drivers have said industrial action could run between 25 May and 5 June.

It would be the fifth round of bus strikes in a dispute with state-owned Bus Vannin over contractual changes.

Eric Holmes, from the union Unite, said the dispute was about "unreasonable" timetable expectations rather than pay.

He added: "The drivers have accepted the pay cut, the main reason for the dispute is the increase in driving times which results in drivers having to drive for four-and-a-half hours without a drink or toilet break.

"This could have serious health consequences and is unreasonable."

Previous bus strikes, of varying lengths, took place in December, January and February and March.

Bus Vannin, run by the community, culture and leisure department (DCCL), has been affected by government cuts and is aiming to save about £1m a year.

School disruption

A series of cost-saving measures were implemented when the UK brought an end to a VAT sharing agreement, which left a £75m-a-year hole in the island's income.

Minister for Community, Culture and Leisure, Graham Cregeen said: "Striking will not change the necessity for the department to meet its financial obligations.

"It only further reduces drivers' pay and targets the most vulnerable members of our society."

Mr Cregeen added contingency plans will be put in place to minimise disruption for commuters, TT visitors and students due to sit exams.

"Not only is the Union targeting the TT festival, they are also well aware that this is when final GCSE and A-Level examinations are taking place at all of the island's secondary schools."

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