Although this might seem like an employee irritated about low wages... it's not. I'm not in their employ, thankfully, but what angers me is just how
one company, and one man in particular, is threatening to destroy an entire industry.
This also mainly applies to Britain, but as they have now aquired Greyhound and have bigger firms in their sights it's seriously advised that
America/Canada pay heed NOW to this organisation.
Bus driving isn't the most glamorous of careers yet people end up in it here from a variety of different walks of life. The enjoyment of not having
to work in an office environment, or the ability to meet countless new people are often reasons... but at the company I work for we have everybody
from an ex-judge, to ex-army, to an ex-lawyer, ex-butcher... it's rarely anyone's 'first pick' of careers but it is for some. Here in Britain it
used to be seen as a reasonably high profile job, in the 40's/50's the pay was equal to that of a police officer... but gradually as the years went
past it declined and so did the reputation that came with the job. By the late 80's, it was still a reasonable payer... but with a mostly
nationalised industry, it was running out of cash. The decision came to privatise.
Four main operators sprang up, quickly swallowing all in their wake... Arriva, Go Ahead, First... and Stagecoach.
I can't deny that the other three have all had their part to play in the demise of the industry as I knew it, but Stagecoach are at the forefront of
I'm not going to identify individual depots, but one in particular that they took over a few years back is the subject of this rant. It was a company
owned by the local authority. Wages were nearly £12 an hour, it was a good place to work. Stagecoach came along, tried everything but tasers to bring
the wages down, but they've found a loophole in the system which they exploit in every depot they own. That is that 'new starters' earn around £8
an hour... they wages that they pay leave drivers who have families reliant on benefits and struggling to survive. They know that as it's an old
man's industry, very soon most of the higher earners will have retired which means it's a really underhand way to cut the wages of an entire
industry, because very quickly this "£8" becomes industry average.
Now, sure, you can say "for the good of the business", but then put it in perspective that Stagecoach last year alone made £191,200,000 profit.
That's exhorbitent. Why should the government be made to pay huge sums of benefits to drivers and their families, when it's Stagecoach that have
caused the shortfall by putting profits WAY before people?
Well, he's got knighted... and yes, Sir Brian has been revered as the savious of the bus industry, when inside it he's actually a plague that's
causing it to collapse from the inside out.
Buses (apparently!) are maintained amazingly well... but many depots are left with hand-me-downs from larger depots. This depot I have in my mind are
driving a fleet that, for the area, should have been put out to pasture a LONG time ago. They've been reprimanded for having too many breakdowns...
but painting a turd a pretty new colour still makes it a turd
Wages, of course, affect staff morale and if most Stagecoach drivers are questioned, Stagecoach would be the LAST company they'd work for... they
problem is, that they won't just own THAT depot, they'll own all of the other local ones too. In Kent you'd struggle to see a bus from another
company... which makes being employed by another company virtually impossible.
As I said at the start, I'm not in their employ and certainly don't intend to be, but America be warned. Greyhound's the start... you're next.
I just find it a real, real shame that the industry that I love and have devoted a substantial portion of my life to is being undermined in such a