Stagecoach called to inquiry after death crash
Stagecoach Midland Red South, its directors and some of its senior managers have been called to a Public Inquiry in Birmingham later this month, as a direct consequence of the Crown Court judgement last year, when Stagecoach was fined £2.3m.
The company had faced an unlimited fine over a crash in which its “fatigued” 77-year-old driver Kailash Chander ploughed into a supermarket, killing two people (see B&CB 1508, 30 November 2018). Stagecoach had pleaded guilty to two charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act of putting members of the public and their own staff at risk.
The Court had heard that just 48 hours before the crash, the employer was told by one of its managers that Chander was ‘not safe’ and should have his contract ended. It also heard that the company had failed to follow its own procedures by not monitoring his working hours.
The Public Inquiry on 30 January calls the company, and names directors Colin Brown, Arnold Mark Threapleton, Phil Medlicott and Christopher Venables, to face disciplinary action, and consideration of Transport Manager’s Repute.
Also called to Transport Managers Public Inquiries at the same time are former MD, Stephen Burd (who is now working in Saudi Arabia); current MD, Phil Medlicott; Operations Director, James Mortimore and Engineering Director, David Morgan.
Disappointment as Stagecoach sacks casual drivers
Stagecoach has sacked all its casual drivers at all of its subsidiaries, in what is seen as a direct reaction to the Crown Court fine of £2.3m. The driver who caused the fatal collision in 2015 had been employed as a casual driver, although monitoring of his driver’s hours showed that he had been paid for as many as 70-hours per week.
The company said in Court that it had reconsidered its employment of older drivers, and has made changes so that if any driver is given a recommendation not to work too many hours – that message is relayed to local managers, operation directors and MDs. A directive that casuals are not employed for more than four days per week had been in place for some time.
The edict, which is believed to have come from Head Office, has been interpreted in localised ways, with some companies offering casual drivers the opportunity to become regular part-timers. Stagecoach Midlands however, has offered no such concession. One casual driver, Ray Ramsey of Kettering, a former senior manager with United Counties and Stagecoach, was particularly disappointed at his dismissal, following 55-years of continuous service. “It might have made more sense to actually ensure that proper controls are in place to monitor staff working hours and abilities, rather than take action such as this which will not actually ensure such a tragedy never happens again,” he said.