Edinburgh Lothian Buses strike: everything we know so far
A planned strike from Lothian Buses drivers has been suspended, following a proposed deal.
The agreement, struck by union leaders and Lothian Buses management, is set to be voted on by Unite members of Friday (9 Aug) after it was unanimously backed by union stewards.
If the agreement is approved, strike action will be halted. However, if drivers opt to reject the deal, it will lead the way for a walkout.
What is proposed in the agreement?
If drivers back the new deal, an independent HR officer from the city council will be drafted into Lothian Buses to oversee complaints of "behaviours and trust" with management, and to supervise the issues being tackled.
Proposals tabled by senior management of Lothian buses include the following:
- A high level of review of all cases received from the union in respect of bullying and harassment. If the matters have not been dealt with correctly or appropriately in line with policy, the case will be revisited with the full involvement with Unite
- An independent HR officer from the City of Edinburgh Council will be brought in to address the issues of “behaviours and trust”. Unite will be involved at every stage of this
- Unite has assurances from all stakeholders including the City of Edinburgh Council senior officials and elected representatives, that the longstanding issues of a culture of bullying and harassment will be fully addressed
- Terms and conditions are protected for a period of five years
- The five-day single deck shift will move from a maximum of 12 hours to nine hours and 15 minutes
- A staggered progression rate will be introduced for single deck drivers, after two years, from £11.81 to £12.81 and, at three years, the full rate will apply
- The single deck overtime rate will be paid straight through by the end of August
- Management will consult Unite to look at more three-part shifts for a four-day week. Any changes to this will take place on 6 October 2019
- The use of vans will be reinstated at Stenhouse/Saughton Road by the year end due to procurement needs. There will be a full job description of employee director produced by the end of August and shared with Unite
A Lothian Buses spokesperson said, "Following positive talks, proposals were agreed between Unite officials and Lothian which led to the suspension of last Friday’s proposed strike action.
“The proposals include the option to appoint an external independent consultant who has extensive experience of change management programmes at a public sector level and who has worked with Unite representatives previously.
“The proposals as tabled were then approved at a full Unite committee meeting where union representatives agreed to recommend the deal for acceptance in a workplace ballot on Friday 9 August.”
Why have bus drivers threatened strike action?
Bus drivers were set to go on continuous strike action last Friday (2 Aug), after rejecting a last-minute offer in a long-running dispute with management.
Drivers from Lothian Buses were to walk out from 3am on Friday, the first day of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, after 59 per cent of Unite members voted in favour of the action.
Lothian chiefs had been drawing up contingency options including drafting in drivers from other services such as East Coast Buses and Lothian Country.
The threat of strike came amid accusations of a culture of bullying and harassment, with drivers claiming management at Lothian Buses is "hostile".
The Unite union had recommended that its 1,700 members at Lothian Buses accept a new deal following talks.
However, members voted to reject a last-minute offer by Lothian chiefs, which included a 2.7 per cent pay increase, with union bosses deaming it "too little, too late".
The proposal came amid a long-running dispute and included new measures to address concerns over bullying.
This included bringing in external experts to assist with management and the workforce, which could lead to managers being sent on one-day courses, and a commitment that management would abide by company policies.
Speaking when the strike was still scheduled to go ahead, Unite regional industrial officer, Lyn Turner, said, “Unite’s 1,700 strong Lothian Buses membership has democratically voted to reject the latest offer from management.
“There has been progress made in our negotiations through Acas but yesterday’s vote is testimony to the fact that this was never about pay.
"The depth of feeling from our membership about the toxic management culture speaks for itself. Our members have considered the latest offer too little and too late.
"Unite remains committed to finding a resolution to the dispute and our door remains open for talks but as things stand the action will go ahead on the 2 August. ”
Will the strike affect the trams?
The bus strike action was not scheduled to affect Edinburgh Trams.
Will there be future strike action?
Unite members are expected to hold another ballot on future strike action.
In a statement, Lothian buses said, "Unite will now take forward the jointly agreed proposal to their members with a recommendation for acceptance.
"It is the hope of both parties that this agreement will be passed in order to avoid any industrial action."