Thursday, 13 November 2008


We finally had our chance to speak with the people from yesterday. The phrase divide and conquer was banded about before we had the meeting but afterwards we (the tug drivers) agreed that it was better for the Awake team to see us individually so they only had one job to think about and get their heads round.

There were three tug drivers present, Steve Lacey, Adrian Murkin and myself. We felt that we got our point across and didn't miss anything out in the meeting.
Points covered:

We were asked what our thoughts were on the present working times. We told them that they are far too long. Awake said that their software program shows very little difference between the 2 hours driving and 30 min breaks and the 3 hours 20 mins driving and 40 mins break. We pointed out that it is totally different working on the quay to driving down a motorway(Most of Awake's case studies are on road haulage companies). We mentioned the state of the roadways and the battering that our bodies get, the constant turning in the seat to see boxes down, the ammount of times you are straining to look up and check for boxes coming off/on to the ships. We pointed out that we have different cabs to lorry drivers and even when we do get the chance to stretch it isn't easy.

We thought that we would be more productive going back to the old system and told them about the monotony of our jobs. Most of us have a radio on in the cabs but that does little to keep us alert, it's only coming in for breaks and having a stretch and a chat that gets us awake and ready for another stint. We suggested going to 2 hours 30 mins driving with a 30 min break.

We talked about the catering facilities and the fact that if you are on break 1 or 6 it is difficult to get a decent meal. These breaks fall around the times that the canteen change over menus. I brought up the vending machines that we have at the North quay office and quoted from the Awake website that If you are getting sleepy to take a high caffeine drink and have a nap for no more than 15 minutes. We don't have anywhere on the quay to even get a cup of coffee.

I also quoted from their website "Most sleep related crashes occur between 2am- 6 am, and 4pm-6pm. You are 13 times more likely to have an accident due to tiredness at this time. The health and safety man from POF told us that most accidents on the port occur between 7am-11am.

Awake informed us that working an 8 hour shift is better than working 12. We all agreed that the majrity of the workforce would not want to go back to the 8 hour shifts. We are happy with our pattern as it is but are very unhappy and concerned about safety driving for 3 hours 20 minutes. We told them that we have all seen people falling asleep while driving, luckily not causing any accidents. I again quoted from their website saying that if you have anything less than 2 minutes sleep you do not even know you've had it. When your head starts nodding it's usually too late!

We told them that by the end of our four shifts we are mentally and physically tired. All the tug drivers agreed that our first day off is wasted through fatigue.

We look forward to reading their report.

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