Bus drivers working for part of Lothian Buses 'rely on foodbanks' because pay rates so poor

Bus drivers are having to rely on foodbanks to feed their families because their pay rates are so poor, it was claimed today.

Friday, 28th May 2021, 4:55 am

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Drivers at East Coast Buses, part of publicly-owned Lothian Buses, are paid over £3 less per hour than colleagues working for the main company.

One East Coast driver also claimed some colleagues had to walk home long distances late at night after their shift because they could no longer afford to run a car.

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East Coast Buses operates services from East Lothian into Edinburgh

He said: “It's ridiculous that we're the same company and we get paid so much less – and we get no overtime rates or social enhancements.”

Lothian Buses drivers are paid £14.18 per hour while East Coast drivers, who are based in Musselburgh and cover East Lothian routes, get just £10.88 per hour.

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And drivers at two other Lothian subsidiaries are also paid more – Lothian Country, which operates services to West Lothian, pays £11.73 per hour, and Edinburgh Bus Tours pays £13.50 per hour.

The East Coast driver said: “We’ve got drivers who are using foodbanks. Even if you’re single with no dependants you have to work six days a week to make ends meet.

“There are guys who have had to take their cars off the road and if there's no bus to get them home they have to walk home, often in the early hours, because it's either that or not feeding their kids.

"There are drivers driving 21 plate Jags at Lothian Buses and drivers here who just can't afford to keep their cars.”

He said East Coast drivers had not had a wage rise for four years. A pay offer had been withdrawn last year when the pandemic hit.

“Directors are driving down here in their £100,000 Ranger Rovers to tell us they don't have any money.

"We had a questionnaire and 100 per cent of drivers said they felt unappreciated and not properly rewarded.

"We asked for a pay rise two months ago and the company said they were not willing to negotiate until at least October. These guys can’t wait any longer they're on their knees.

"At Lothian if they work a bank holiday they get time and half and a day in lieu – we don’t get that.

“If Lothian drivers work a weekend they get a £30 enhancement for working both Saturday and Sunday.

“I'm not saying they don't deserve it, but the people who put petrol in the buses get paid more than us. We feel like the bad schoolboys who have been put down there and just get forgotten about.

“If I work only five days I get £330, at Lothian Buses they take away £470. If they work one day overtime they’re clearing £600 a week. If I do one day overtime I get £389.”

Lothian Buses interim managing director Nigel Serafini said: “The Lothian Group is made up of a number of different operating companies with individual structures and we would always encourage our colleagues to come directly to us with any issues.

“The last 15 months have been incredibly challenging for our business as we have strived to deliver services for our customers in an exceptionally difficult operational climate whilst maintaining employment for as many colleagues as possible. We are aware of colleague concerns at East Coast Buses and are in ongoing dialogue with representatives from Unite.”

Unite official Lyn Turner said: "We have raised a number of issues on pay and terms and conditions with senior management and talks are ongoing."

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