Edinburgh bus strike could be called off

A THREATENED bus strike in the Capital could be called off following talks between Lothian Buses and the Unite union.

Tuesday, 2nd July 2019, 5:57 pm
A bus strike was scheduled to coincide with the start of the Festival
A bus strike was scheduled to coincide with the start of the Festival

Unite was on the point of calling a stoppage by its members at council-owned bus company in a long-running dispute over alleged bullying and harassment by management.

But talks at Acas have produced a possible agreement which the drivers will be asked to vote on within the next few days.

The dispute over what Unite has described as “hostile” and “bullying” management attitudes dates back to December when a bus driver was sacked for sharing a mocked-up image of managing director Richard Hall as a jester on a closed Facebook group with other drivers.

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Up to ten other employees were also suspended for complaining about bosses on a closed Facebook group around the same time.

A consultative ballot of 1700 Unite members held in March and April produced an overwhelming 94 per cent vote for a strike.

That led to an official ballot on action amid warnings that a vote in favour could mean a walk-out in early August. co-inciding with the start of the Festival, one of the busiest times of year in the Capital.

The official ballot saw a turn-out of 63.2 per cent and another emphatic vote in favour of strike action.

When the result was announced last month, Unite regional industrial officer Lyn Turner said the 91.3 per cent backing for a walk-out demonstrated the lack of trust and confidence in the company’s management.

But the union held off giving formal notice of a stoppage to allow planned talks under the supervision of the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) to go ahead.

Mr Turner said ahead of the talks that Unite would enter into them in a positive and constructive manner and called on Lothian Buses to do the same.

Richard Hall said there had been amicable discussions with union officials over recent weeks and voiced the hope that Unite would go into the meeting at Acas with a resolve to avoid strike action which he said would be damaging for Edinburgh residents and visitors alike.

The talks which took place on Friday led to a set of proposals which will now be put to an extraordinary general meeting of Unite members at Lothian Buses at the end of this week.

If the proposals are accepted it is expected strike action would then be suspended pending further talks.

A spokeswoman for Unite said today that following the talks at Acas a potential way forward had been found to address the issues that had led to the strike ballot an the union would now put proposals to its members at Lothian Buses.

A special meeting has been called for July 7.

A spokesman for Lothian Buses said: “We engaged in constructive talks with union officials at Acas last week. As a result of this dialogue we hope to make progress in resolving the outstanding issues in the near future.”