Saturday, March 20, 2010

What, nothing north of Birmingham?

Big changes start on Sunday with my day job. Last November our depot stopped having a driver stay overnight in London, essentially we got an extra run with the coach and driver returning to Cardiff the same day. This dropping of the overnight stay dropped our nights away from 28 nights in 28 weeks, down to 21 nights in 28 weeks - an average of 1 night away each week down to 3 nights away in 4 weeks. From last November we had 2 drivers staying every night in Bradford and 1 driver every night in Edinburgh.

From Sunday our drivers will not be staying away overnight anywhere in our country! Every night will be spent at home! Our depot has lost the run to Edinburgh, it is replaced by a run to Liverpool that returns the same day - so we now have a spare coach. Management has decided that all coaches will change drivers in Birmingham and the Treforest drivers will drive another coach back home. Other depots will provide drivers to cover Birmingham to Bradford and Birmingham to Liverpool. These changes mean that we require 4 fewer drivers at our depot to service our contract with the nationwide company. Therefore our 28 line roster would reduce to 24 lines.

There are many ways to compile a work roster and you will never please everybody. Drivers have lobbied management for ages about different ways of compiling the work roster to provide a better work/life balance. What some drivers like, others simply detest. Some drivers prefer early shifts, others prefer lates. Up to now, we have had the balance of all shifts spread over 28 weeks and you take the rough with the smooth. But from Sunday there has been a good split in the ranks. There will be a 21 line work roster containing a variety of early and late shifts. There will also be a stand-alone 3 week work roster that just does 2 shifts - both of them starting at 01.55 - yes, it was not a typo - 01.55 in the goddamn morning! I was told that there were 5 volunteer drivers interested in these obscenely early shifts and I am really glad that these 2 ridiculously early starts have been put on a sub-roster. I am really pleased that Gwyn, John-Henry and Michael have risen to the challenge and taken on these shifts, for whatever reasons they have. I would not fancy getting up at one o'clock every morning to go to work!

So, Stephen will now only drive to Birmingham and London. I will go no further north than Birmingham in our great country. It seemed strange going to Bradford for the last time on Sunday. I was going to Bradford on average once every 2 weeks and Edinburgh once every 4 weeks. The bed and breakfast in Edinburgh was run by a retired couple and Bill is in his 80's but he was always up every morning to cook you an excellent, full "body-builder" breakfast. It was like staying with your mum and dad, Bill always liked the gossip over the dining table and he would talk about anything under the sun. I have stayed in many hotels and guest houses in and around Bradford over the years, the whole area became so familiar to me, as though I was born and bred there! I shall miss driving through Derby, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Meadowhall and Leeds on the way to Bradford, it all seemed as though it was my turf. People are different in various parts of our country and the attitude on the coach in West Yorkshire is rather different to London. I shall miss going "Up North" but Gail and Barney are very pleased to have Stephen home every night. I am grateful to Gwyn, John-Henry and Michael for taking the tomb-raider 01.55 early starts so that Barney does not bark by the front door at 01.25 pleading with me to take him out for a walk!
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