Why threatened Lothian Buses strike is almost certainly off – Steve Cardownie

An improved offer by Lothian Buses management, along with a pledge to investigate bullying claims, should be enough to end the threat of a strike given the ballot results, says Steve Cardownie.

The threat of strike action at Lothian Buses seems to be receding. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The threat of strike action at Lothian Buses seems to be receding. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

SO, another ballot of Lothian Buses staff is to be undertaken, the results of which will be announced on Friday – and if it still results in a vote in favour of strike action I’ll eat my Hearts tammy!

First of all, the majority vote of 59 per cent in favour of strike action last time was too slim and did not hold out the prospect that it would be successful, with factors such as the reaction of the 41 per cent voting against having to be taken into account. Would they cross picket lines and continue to drive buses?

Would that trigger some of the 59 per cent to follow suit as they would see the effect of their action seriously diluted? How would the union react to seeing such a split in its membership, which could have a long-lasting effect and which may result in a substantial number of resignations from their organisation?

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Issues such as these have to come into play as strike action is not a simple matter and difficult problems can arise, particularly if the ballot result is not so emphatic as to lay the foundation for a successful strike.

However, although the vote did not demonstrate that a successful strike was on the cards, it did provoke an improved offer from management, and for that the union members who voted in favour should be commended. Unite stewards have unanimously backed the potential new deal which should offer a clear indication to the membership that they have wrung such sufficient concessions from management that strike action is no longer necessary.

The Edinburgh public will no doubt emit a collective sigh of relief and may be reassured that industrial relations within the depots will be addressed and the “toxic management culture” which drove the staff to consider strike action in the first place will be investigated and, if proven, appropriate action will be taken.

Then the workforce can get on with what they do best – providing a first-class service transporting citizens around the city and beyond, safely and efficiently.