‘A NORMAL week is hard to describe. My day can start at 4.30am, or at mid morning or mid afternoon. A shift can run to 11 and a half hours or six and a half hours. In fact it takes 23 weeks before you get back to the start of the rota system!
Five weeks ago the management shut down the established rotas. It created a lot of hassle in the garages. It’s been turmoil. We haven’t known what shift we were going to work even a few days ahead.
My wife is also a bus driver. We’ve both kids from previous relationships and a young child. My other kids may be grown up but I still want to see them. I can’t say, ‘See you Tuesday,’ because I just don’t know what I’m working.
Now they’ve had to promise us they will go back onto the original rotas.
I’m 55 years old. With my pension from my previous job it means I can work a five-day week. But others work far more. A 60-70 hour week is quite common just to take home £300-£400.
When we went for a caravan holiday in France I put in some overtime to help pay for it. I worked virtually nonstop for five weeks. I just couldn’t do that long term. Your life is about nothing but driving buses.
When you come into work you can always tell the people who are going on shift. They are still quite lively. But the ones who are finishing work are completely drained, they’ve got holes where their eyes should be. When you work long hours you get home and it’s all you can do to limp along till bedtime.
You can end up snarling and snapping at your family. You have to build your life around the rota. Me and my wife do that so we get to spend time during the day as a family.
We’re lucky that our daughter is taking a childcare course. She does baby care for us, which helps us, and her. And we’ve got a council house whereas other drivers have mortgages or private rents. It’s no wonder so many drivers end up so stressed.’
What’s your experience of conditions at work? Why not let Socialist Worker know? E-mail [email protected] Phone 020 7538 0828 Write PO Box 82, London E3 3LH
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