Crisis talks avert strike action at Lothian Buses

A meeting between Lothian Buses management and union bosses settled '95 per cent' of their differences. Picture: Ian Georgeson
A meeting between Lothian Buses management and union bosses settled '95 per cent' of their differences. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A POTENTIAL strike on the Capital’s bus network has been averted after union chiefs reached a deal on issues including drivers being able to take off their ties in hot weather.

A crisis meeting this week saw management and union bosses settle “95 per cent” of their differences, with the Unite union assured that its members would be able to attend meetings.

Last week, the union threatened crippling industrial action after accusing bosses of “bullying” and “harassment”.

Unite regional officer Tony Trench said most of their concerns had now been addressed.

“The company is working with us on one remaining concern relating to a company position. The main thing is, this is good for our members and shows that Lothian Buses is listening to us again.

“Our aim was never to have an impact on the service we provide and this resolution means we can work together to keep that good service intact for the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians.

“Apprehension around the working culture at Lothian Buses is hopefully a thing of the past.”

Among the union’s complaints last week was that drivers were no longer being provided with safety gloves while using manual ramps for wheelchairs instead of mechanical ramps.

It also emerged earlier in the summer that drivers had been ordered to wait for a radio message from their control centre before they could take off their ties in hot weather. The union says both issues have now been resolved.

One driver, who has been with the company for nearly ten years, had claimed morale among drivers was low.

“Not providing rubber gloves for drivers coming into contact with potentially hazardous material, such as blood, excrement or urine, as they change manual mobility ramps is a huge risk.

“They are duty bound to provide preventative materials and it seems plain wrong to have refused to issue drivers with gloves.”

Unite had called for a “consultative ballot” among the 1700 drivers for action tomorrow unless management addressed issues they said were pushing drivers to “breaking point”.

A Lothian Buses spokesman said: “What this shows is the value of the union talking directly with the company and resolving these issues round the table in proper discussion.

“We remain absolutely focused on working constructively with the union to maintain positive industrial relations and ensure that Lothian Buses can continue to deliver for our customers who rely on our services.”

The strike would have caused widespread disruption and a “stoppage of the service”.