Threat of strike at Lothian Buses over ‘hostile’ management culture

A number 4 bus at Dalry Road
A number 4 bus at Dalry Road
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UNION leaders today warned that a “hostile” management culture at Lothian buses risks leading to strike action.

The Unite union claimed 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.

And it warned that unless the issues were addressed immediately members could take strike action which would take buses off the street.

In December, the Evening News told how a bus driver was sacked and around ten others were suspended for complaining about bosses on a closed Facebook group. It was said to be the latest example of a growing problem of bullying and harassment by management at the council-owned bus company.

Industrial action was averted when the company and the union reached a deal on how to tackle concerns – but the union claims management are now ignoring the agreement.

Unite regional officer Lyn Turner said: “Unite is keen to work with Lothian buses to avoid a complete breakdown in relations between company management and the workforce, but they must be prepared to enter into genuine and meaningful dialogue. It’s that simple.

“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.

“Clearly signing the agreement last year, was a token gesture by Lothian buses’ 
management in a bid to avoid a strike. We will not be diverted next time around, should it come to that.

“If the company doesn’t address the situation we will move to a consultative ballot on industrial action and that will happen pretty quickly.”

A ballot would involve around 1900 workers at all three Lothian garages at Longstone, Seafield and Annandale Street.

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 company spokeswoman said: “Senior management met union representatives last week and we are shocked Unite are not trying to resolve any concerns with us directly and instead feel they can negotiate through the media.

“Our first thought is for our customers who rely on our services every day and in the longer term such actions cannot be good for Unite members and other staff.

“Our commercial success in recent years has allowed us to create new jobs and provide a six per cent pay increase over three years from 2016.

“The entire country is concerned with the outcome of Brexit and we are certain this is the last thing the people of Edinburgh need.

“We would strongly encourage Unite to follow the agreed due process for resolving disputes.”