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Bus drivers hold protest in Norwich station over working conditions

PUBLISHED: 15:15 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:15 10 March 2020

Konnectbus drivers protest outside Norwich Bus Station over 14h days. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Konnectbus drivers protest outside Norwich Bus Station over 14h days. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

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Bus drivers and union representatives held a protest in Norwich over working conditions and hours.

Mark Walker, Unite regional officer. Picture: Victoria PertusaMark Walker, Unite regional officer. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

On Tuesday, March 10, members of the Unite union gathered at the city's bus station in a bid to put pressure on Konectbus bus to re-enter into negotiations with the union over the length of drivers' shifts and rest breaks.

The action was prompted by a breakdown in discussions over working conditions which reportedly sees drivers working 14-hour days and only getting a break of 30-minutes after five and a half hours work - the legal minimum - according to Unite.

Mark Walker, Unite regional officer who was at the protest representing Unite Konectbus members and passengers, said: 'We've been in negotiations with the company for over three months and we've raised concerns over long working hours, rest breaks and concerns in relation to the state of some of the busses.'

Mr Walker said 'unfortunately' the negotiations with Konectbus had broken down, a development which had led the union to hold the protest, he said: 'What we're aiming for today is to bring this to the public's attention but also to put pressure on the company to get back around the negotiation table and address the concerns that we've raised.'

Konnectbus drivers protest outside Norwich Bus Station over 14h days. Picture: Victoria PertusaKonnectbus drivers protest outside Norwich Bus Station over 14h days. Picture: Victoria Pertusa

Mr Walker said since discussions had broken down, Konectbus had also stopped voluntary negotiations with active union members who were trying to get a union recognition agreement with the company.

He said: 'We believe it's in the best interests of the company to sit down and work together but if they fail to do that we will go back to our members again to see what they would like to do.'

Jeremy Cooper, managing director of Go East Anglia, the parent company of Konectbus, said: 'We agree that Unite have approached us about recognition but not about working hours, though that is something we are happy to discuss.

'We are quite happy to recognise the trade union if that is what our employees would like and we are surprised that Unite will not agree to a democratic ballot to confirm this.'

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