Bus drivers '˜have to wait for permission' to remove ties in hot weather

SWELTERING bus drivers have been told they must wait for permission before taking off ties during the Capital's heatwave.

Friday, 26th May 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Sunday, 4th June 2017, 9:06 pm
Lothian Buses drivers have been told to keep their ties on. File photo.
Lothian Buses drivers have been told to keep their ties on. File photo.

The city is expected to continue basking in glorious sunshine and temperatures into the mid-20s over the weekend.

But drivers for Lothian Buses have been ordered to wait for a radio message from their control centre before they can dump the neckwear.

One 47-year-old driver said today: “There’s no air conditioning and we are absolutely roasting. The bus drivers are sweating. Sometimes there is sweat on the seats when we hand over.”

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Word that drivers could remove their ties came through at 1pm yesterday - by which time temperatures had peaked at 25 degrees centigrade.

Bosses say the new guidelines were introduced to help boost “excellent customer service” after talks with trade unions.

But the driver said: “From May to September, drivers have been allowed to take off their ties. For years we have been able to - but not now.

“Passengers are complaining about buses being hot, but drivers are trapped in their cabs. There is nothing we can do. We drive for four hours and then get a 30-minute or one-hour break. Then we are back on the road.”

The driver alleged ‘route managers’ were out in force performing “spot checks” to ensure drivers are in full uniform, but this was denied by Lothian Buses management.

“But we are being told that if it’s too hot we will get radioed to say we can take our ties off,” added the driver. “We’re carrying bottles of water with us but it’s useless because it’s warm by the time you get to drink it.”

It comes after drivers claimed they were banned from wearing jumpers and hats last Christmas. Management insisted it was part of a coordinated fundraising approach which saw festive gear donned later in December.

Tony Trench, from the Unite union that represents drivers, said the policy was implemented after a notice went up “in error” stating ties should be worn at all times.

He said the matter had been “resolved” amicably with managing director Richard Hall so ties can be removed in hot weather - with management’s permission.

“It’s a common sense approach that if it’s really that hot, they should be contacted and told they can take off their ties,” said Mr Trench.

A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “The professionalism of our drivers in demonstrating excellent customer service and a feeling of safety and security to our customers is key and our uniform is a significant part of that. In unusually warm or cold conditions we have agreed policies in place with our trade unions where we can adjust our uniform policy to suit, which we followed today.”