Lothian Buses union bosses demand council talks

Ian Craig is locked in a dispute with three other directors, which the unions fear could damage the firm. Picture: TSPL
Ian Craig is locked in a dispute with three other directors, which the unions fear could damage the firm. Picture: TSPL
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UNION bosses at Lothian Buses have demanded a meeting with council leaders to discuss their “deep concern” at the boardroom chaos that has gripped the council-owned company.

Workers at the Lothian Buses depot fear that three executive directors locked in a dispute with chief executive Ian Craig could end up leaving the company. Following an emergency meeting yesterday, representatives of union branches at the bus service’s Annandale Street HQ issued a statement calling for councillors to meet with them and address their concerns.

The News understands that the bus service workforce is considering taking industrial action if their fears of a leadership meltdown are not addressed.

Operations director Bill Campbell, engineering director Bill Devlin, and Finance Director Norman Strachan filed a joint complaint against Mr Craig in September, alleging that he had an abrasive management style and failed to consult them on key decisions.An investigation led by chairwoman Ann Faulds resulted in no disciplinary action being taken against Mr Craig. Following the investigation, mediation efforts were launched to resolve the dispute, but have so far failed to find a solution.

However, Ms Faulds dramatically resigned on Wednesday, with city transport convener Councillor Lesley Hinds being parachuted on to the board. It had emerged that the former chairwoman was in favour of Mr Craig leaving the company.

The three executive directors each have at least 14 years’ service with Lothian Buses and are popular with staff.

In a statement circulated to workers yesterday, the Joint Trade Union Committee, which brings together representatives of each of the Unite branches at the company, expressed their fears for the “continued success of Lothian Buses”.

In the statement, JTUC chairman Rab Fraser said: “In response to recent events reported in the press and after convening an emergency meeting of the JTUC, the committee has unanimously agreed to express deep concern at the loss of chairman Ann Faulds, who after five years serving on the board of Lothian Buses has resigned her position.

“A request has been submitted to have a cross-party meeting with councillors and the JTUC to discuss concerns regarding the continued success of Lothian Buses.”

Conservative councillor Jason Rose said: “It is certainly of grave concern that Lothian Buses has suddenly lost a chair with 20 years of transport and roads experience. Only last month the council leader was unable or unwilling to confirm the status of the chief executive and now the chair of the bus company has been lost. This situation worsens by the day.”

Council leader Andrew Burns said: “I am open to meeting with the JTUC to discuss their concerns.”

paris.gourtsoyannis@edinburghnews.com