Unite the union has today (March 18) confirmed that its membership at Lothian buses is holding a consultative ballot on potential industrial action. The moves follows Lothian Buses management withdrawing facility time for the union’s Branch Chair and Branch Secretary in response to collective grievances being lodged over the poor workplace relations.
Unite has continually stated that there are real concerns over the conduct of senior management which includes delaying an offer by Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) for conciliation.
The latest development to withdraw facility time for Unite’s representatives is indicative of the unreasonable and unjust way that senior management has dealt with workplace issues. Unless the outstanding issues are addressed immediately including the reinstatement of facility time, then industrial action could result in buses being taken off the streets of Edinburgh.
Unite will now hold a consultative ballot, which opens today and will run until Friday, April 12. Previous action last year was averted following a meeting held at ACAS, which led to the signing of a Procedural Agreement. Unite believed this Agreement would provide a fair way to deal with workers concerns.
“The hostile and bullying environment being deliberately created by Lothian Buses management will not go unchallenged,” said Unite regional officer Lyn Turner. “The disgraceful action to withdraw facility time for our union representatives is the latest move to intimidate our members.”
“There prevails a culture where workers genuinely fear for their jobs and now Unite members are being denied the opportunity to be effectively represented,” she added. “We have tried to raise industrial and procedural issues with Lothian Buses senior management including offering to go to mediation through ACAS, but they have repeatedly frustrated this process. The imminent ballot will determine how we move forward, but I am 100% certain we will be given a mandate to hold a legal ballot, and then Lothian Buses willhave a dispute on their hands.”