UNION leaders at Lothian Buses have called for chief executive Ian Craig to be dismissed in the wake of a prolonged row that has split the boardroom.
Peace talks are now being held between Mr Craig and three senior directors who lodged grievances claiming he failed to consult them on major issues and had an abrasive management style.
No disciplinary action was taken against Mr Craig, who did not attend work at Lothian Buses HQ for ten weeks during the probe.
It is understood the three directors – operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin and finance director Norman Strachan – had not been seen at work for a fortnight after Mr Craig returned.
They are thought to have walked out after former chairwoman Ann Faulds was ousted from her post following a dispute with the council. It is claimed she asked the council for consent to sack Mr Craig and when senior councillors refused, she chose to resign.
Today, the Joint Trade Union Committee of Lothian Buses said council bosses should “think again” and remove Mr Craig from the £270,000-a-year top job.
Tony Trench, Unite regional industrial officer, said the reputation of the publicly-owned firm had been “scarred” by “petty politics”.
He said: “We believe the people making the decisions affecting the future of Lothian Buses should think again and listen to its workers who are unanimous in their rejection of the current strife.”
The News previously told how interim chairman Tony Depledge has vowed to resolve the bad feeling in the board and put to bed a “bruising and difficult time” for the firm.
Council leader Andrew Burns said he held a meeting with union leaders on Wednesday and shared many of the concerns raised. And he called on Unite to work with management “towards the continued success of the company”.
He said: “We constructively discussed the need for everyone at Lothian Buses to work together to move things on positively and constructively, for the benefit of all the staff and the many, many thousands of people who rely on their services day in, day out.”
Tory councillor Jason Rust said the crisis at the top was “impacting on the entire company”.
He said: “The strife and acrimony at Lothian Buses is continuing and there is clearly a real strength of feeling amongst the workforce.
“It is obviously not the role of the council as shareholder to get involved in the running of the company and the poor handling of this matter by the administration to date is a serious cause of concern.
“There is a clear suggestion that employees believe there has been political interference and it is appalling that such a great bus company now finds itself in such a mess.”