If you use Monaco buses you will have noticed an unusual reduction in the reliability of the service in this last two weeks. There is a strike in force and about 30% of the drivers are not working.
Add to the challenge of dealing with the summer heat what can be lengthy waits at a bus stop. HelloMonaco made a small test of the service on the line running from Saint Roman in the East to the Rock and Fontvieille. An additional problem is the electronic notice boards are not reliable during the strike either – they appear to be posting information that is more pessimistic than what is actually happening. Testing going from Saint Roman to Fontvieille on the number four bus, the notice board predicted a wait of about one and a half hours one morning when in fact a bus arrived in less than 20 minutes. In the early evening going in the opposite direction from, the upper level of the Station back to Saint Roman, the notice board predicted no service, yet a bus arrived about one hour later.
All in all not an easy time for bus commuters in Monaco. What is it all about? There hasn’t been a strike like this since before the Second World War.
The main issue is weekends. The bus drivers work six days in seven. They want some weekends off with their families, instead of just one day. They would like to have one week-end in four off. Negotiations are taking place.
The drivers have other complaints. They have 5-minute breaks for calls to nature when they arrive at a terminus. They want a lengthier break – more in the region of up to eight minutes. It sounds reasonable but if you are a commuter waiting for a bus to go that is sitting stationary near Saint Roman you realize that all these practical issues effect the regularity of the service too.
Then there is a third issue that effects scheduling and the cost of running the buses. Currently some drivers have a break for lunch. Those that do not have that break and are asked to work continuously can request compensation. This was typically the case up to 1976. Many would prefer to forego the lunch break and receive the compensation that they used to receive prior to 1976.
So while all this is being negotiated the strike continues. The service continues too but with unpredictable arrivals and departures of the buses. Both the drivers’ union whose Secretary General is Redah Boulehl and management are reported in the French Press as being flexible. There will have to be some “give” from both sides to resolve the strike. Typically, in these situations no-one gets 100% of what they want. The buses are run by CAM (Monaco Bus Company) which is a service operated as a concession – ultimately contracted by the Government. Some of the drivers are taking their case to the public by demonstrating. There was a relatively small demonstration by about 30 drivers holding placards in Place Sainte Devote. The number of demonstrators was swelled to about 90 by support from other unions.
Week-ends to spend with the family, lengthier break, compensation – all very human issues. Running a reliable bus service means dealing with social issues like this. And at the end of the day users of the bus service in Monaco deserve and need a reliable service.
Let’s hope that negotiations bear fruit soon so that waiting at the bus stop in this heat is less tiresome – and the reliability of the service resumes.