‘It’s like working in a dictatorship’ - Lothian Buses in ‘propaganda’ blast to union reps

A screen grab of the 'restricted access' message on union reps computers and from what's been dubbed "propaganda TV"
A screen grab of the 'restricted access' message on union reps computers and from what's been dubbed "propaganda TV"

BOSSES have enforced a communications blackout on union reps at Lothian Buses as relations continue to disintegrate.

All four Unite officials turned up for work on Monday morning to find they were unable to send private emails or access external websites from their computers.

Meanwhile, a source told how drivers were bombarded non-stop for four days with “propaganda” from management on TVs in communal areas.

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“It’s like working in a dictatorship. It’s just so petty,” added the source.

The Evening News reported last week how Unite leaders warned that a “hostile” management culture at Lothian Buses risks leading to strike action, leading managers to broadcast their policy “with regards to the grievances raised in the media.”

All three union reps and their chairman then had “restricted access” imposed on their computers.

And the Evening News understands that managers barred reps from attending crisis talks yesterday afternoon with council chiefs - though senior Unite officials did attend.

Regional officer for Unite, Lyn Turner, said the union was “very disappointed” with the actions of senior management, adding: “Make no bones about it, unless management at Lothian buses take their side of industrial relations seriously, they will have a dispute on their hands.”

The union claimed last week the company had been “dismissive” over workers’ concerns about bullying and harassment.

It said there had been a breakdown in industrial relations between the company’s management and workforce.

Mr Turner said he recently had to stop around 30 staff at Annandale Street walking out over management treatment. “We have been trying to keep the lid on this for several months and we were hoping management would see sense and come round the table.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian said: “We always keep our employees fully up to date and communicate with them directly, so following the media coverage last week all our internal communications media screens carried a timeline of the relevant dialogue between Unite and the management team at Lothian to ensure there could be no ambiguity or miscommunication.”