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First bus drivers' fear they will lose canteen if they move into Norwich bus station

PUBLISHED: 15:19 24 January 2012

A First bus.

A First bus.

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2010

A possible move by Norwich's biggest bus operator from its current headquarters to the city's bus station has angered drivers who fear they will lose their canteen.

Bosses at First are believed to be considering moving out of their current base at Rouen House, Rouen Road, by June with speculation that staff will be relocated to rooms at Norwich Bus Station.

But the possible move has sparked concern that drivers will lose their canteen and rest facilities, if and when they are relocated.

Bosses at the Unite union are now calling on drivers to add their names to a petition to fight to keep canteen facilities for staff.

The Evening News received a copy of a letter from Unite which stated they have been informed verbally of plans to move out of Rouen House by the summer but have had no confirmation of when staff will leave or where rest facilities will be provided.

It stated that drivers, many of whom in Norwich work 12.5- hour days, must “stand together” and “fight the employer in this decision”.

It added: “We’re expected to act in a professional manner at all times whilst in the public gaze. Our canteen based at Rouen House is our place of sanctuary away from the public gaze.”

The letter called on drivers to sign a petition and warned if no answers were forthcoming from the company, “a full branch meeting will be called, where it is possible for you to steer the committee in any action you feel is necessary.”

One industry insider, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “This is being seen as a direct assault on drivers’ working conditions and all options for possible industrial action are on the table, including an overtime ban, a work to rule or an all out strike.

“Drivers are legally required to take breaks after so many hours behind the wheel and that includes providing them with decent facilities at a suitable location at or near to their place of work.”

A First spokesman said they were in discussion with Unite, but “at the moment no decisions have been made with regard to the move from Rouen House or facilities provided at our new address”.

He added: “Should anyone have any further queries we would ask they contact us directly through the normal channels of communication.”

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