UK Bus Boss Fires Workers After Burning Workers Out ‘I can’t work with you a moment longer’: boss fires bus drivers with blunt note

UK Bus Boss Fires Workers After Burning Workers Out
‘I can’t work with you a moment longer’: boss fires bus drivers with blunt note
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/nov/01/sydney-hardy-nippybus-bo...

Staff angry after Sydney Hardy shuts down Somerset company Nippybus ‘to pursue my dream of not having to work here’
The Nippybus depot in Great Western Road, Martock.
The Nippybus depot in Great Western Road, Martock. The closure of Nippybus has affected hundreds of passengers, including more than 300 students. Photograph: SWNS.com
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Steven Morris and agency
@stevenmorris20
Wednesday 1 November 2017 18.00 GMTFirst published on Wednesday 1 November 2017 11.05 GMT
The boss of a Somerset bus company who took his fleet off the road without warning and sent staff a brusque and foul-mouthed note explaining he could not bear to work with them “a moment longer” has been criticised by drivers, mechanics and passengers.

Staff at Nippybus said they were out of pocket and desperately searching for new jobs to pay their bills, while hundreds of passengers, from children to pensioners, were left trying to find a way to get to school, work and the shops and to keep medical appointments.

Campaigners said the Nippybus situation highlighted problems faced by under-pressure bus services, especially in very rural areas, across the UK.

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In an internal memo to staff, Sydney Hardy, 57, explained in no uncertain terms he was “getting off” after 13 years in charge of Nippybus, which is based in the village of Martock, near Yeovil.

He wrote: “There is a difference between giving up and knowing when you have had enough. I have had enough and realise I cannot work with you, the people I employ, a moment longer.

“There comes a time in any relationship when you just have to say ‘Fuck it’, say goodbye and move on. This is my time! I am quitting to pursue my dream of not having to work here.”

Hardy added: “The gates are now closed and will not open so you can stay in your scratchers and have a lie in.”

MD Syd Hardy
MD Syd Hardy
The gates were indeed closed on Wednesday and Hardy was not available for further comment. A security guard was posted at the fence and fetched possessions for employees who arrived from time to time. Some were also handed payslips – though they said no money had gone into their banks.

Driver Terry Lehmann said he was “gobsmacked” when he went on the company’s site to check the rota and came across Hardy’s note. “How can a human being do that to his colleagues? It’s disgusting,” he said.

Another driver, Steve Atkins, said staff were “in total shock”, adding: “Everybody’s got mortgages and bills to pay. I’ve had to ring up and cancel all my direct debits. There’s no way I can cover them.”

Dave English, who was a driver at Nippybus for almost nine years, claimed the company was struggling because it had been losing drivers. “Everyone was doing long shifts, but he [Hardy] just expected us to do them. The memo makes out that it’s the drivers’ fault this has happened, but without us he would never have had his company.”

The county council has been working hard to find replacement buses for the routes, including school runs, that were covered by Nippybus.

Martock councillor Neil Bloomfield said many people in the area relied heavily on the buses to get to work and to the shops. “We have a high proportion of people who don’t have cars. They are very isolated without buses.”

Bloomfield said there was a shortage of drivers in Somerset partly because many were working on the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant project. “It is a worry for people here,” he said.

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Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Buses are the lifeblood of local communities and economies, and play a major part in reducing road congestion and air pollution as well. Unfortunately, we are hearing more and more of small bus companies ceasing operations without any warning, leaving staff without jobs and passengers without a means to get to work or school.”

People from Martock shared their tales of misery caused by the demise of Nippybus. Marie Bennett, who works at Claire’s cafe next to the bus yard, said her 16-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was forced to go to college on the back of a motorbike. “I wasn’t so happy with that,” she said. Her boss, Claire Lambert, said the loss of the company would have a knock-on effect on other businesses in the village.

A temporary bus service has been running between Yeovil and the village. Jon Tucker, who has relied on the buses since losing a leg in a road accident, said he and his family would struggle without a regular, reliable service.

“I go to the gym in Yeovil three times a week to help improve my mobility and take the children into town to the cinema and bowling at the weekend. We need a good service.”

Retired power company worker Barry Fry said many elderly people would be lost without buses. “There are lots of vulnerable people who rely on that bus.

“We don’t know what is going on at the moment, which is very concerning. It’s disgraceful that the company has acted like this.”