Lothian Buses staff call for Lesley Hinds to go

Transport Convener sley Hinds with Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig. Picture: Esme Allen
Transport Convener sley Hinds with Lothian Buses chief executive Ian Craig. Picture: Esme Allen
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MORE than half the workforce of Lothian Buses have signed a petition calling for the city transport convener to be stripped of her role over her handling of the boardroom battle at the firm.

The petition, circulated by the Unite union, gained more than 1600 signatures in the first 72 hours, and will be presented by staff in person at a full council meeting on Thursday. Staff at the company say they are unhappy the council, which owns 91 per cent of the city bus firm, refused to back former company chairwoman Ann Faulds when she called for the dismissal of chief executive Ian Craig. The public ticking off risks being politically embarrassing for Cllr Hinds, who is bidding to become the next Labour MSP for Edinburgh North & Leith in 2016.

Lothian Buses has been rocked by a boardroom war since a grievance was lodged against Mr Craig by his three fellow executives, with five out of eight complaints upheld in an internal investigation. All four are now to leave the firm.

Ms Faulds resigned in November after calling for Mr Craig’s sacking, with council chief executive Sue Bruce writing to her to deny shareholder approval. Cllr Hinds has also previously backed Mr Craig.

Lothian Buses has just over 2000 employees, with unions understood to be pushing for as many signatures as possible before their appearance in front of councillors this week.

Councillor Jason Rust, who has lodged a motion to be debated at this week’s meeting calling for a report on how the council handled the dispute, said he was “delighted” unions would be able to express their frustration to the council.

“We are all aware of the strength of feeling at all levels and sections of the workforce, clearly exemplified by their petition. I am delighted that the trade union are coming to council as a deputation in support of my motion seeking a report into this murky saga.

“Ultimately what is wanted is clarity from the administration as to the sequence of events and the council’s involvement to allow the company and staff to move forward with confidence.”

Unions at the company had previously threatened to withdraw their support from Cllr Hinds’ Scottish Parliament bid.

A council spokesperson said: “As majority shareholder, the council has a responsibility to ensure stability is restored to the management of Lothian Buses for the benefit of all staff and users.

“The council’s position has been both collective and consistent throughout, with relevant opposition spokespeople kept regularly up to date.

“We continue to support [chairman] Tony Depledge and are confident that the strategy the board is now pursuing will help the company move on positively and constructively.”