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Lothian Buses drivers back strike action during Edinburgh festivals

(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)
(Chris Austin / DC Thomson)

Drivers have voted for strike action ahead of talks to resolve a dispute over a “hostile” culture at Lothian Buses.

Unite said more than 1,700 members could walk out over Edinburgh’s busy festival period in August after 91.3% backed the action in a ballot. The turnout was 63.2%.

The union said the dispute stemmed from poor workplace relations at Lothian Buses.

Talks with the company will take place on June 28 after previous discussions broke down.

Lyn Turner, Unite regional industrial officer, said the ballot had delivered an emphatic result.

She said: “The scale of the result is testament to the lack of trust and confidence which Unite’s 1,700-strong membership has in the current Lothian Buses management.

“Unite will now enter imminent talks with Lothian Buses at Acas in a positive and constructive manner in the coming days.

“We do so in an effort to resolve this dispute and we want to mutually agree a number of measures, which could easily avert any industrial action.

“However, this requires Lothian Buses to enter these talks in the same manner and if they do not then Unite has a clear mandate to issue a notice for strike action at any time.”

Lothian MSP Alison Johnstone said Lothian Buses staff “regularly go above and beyond” and it was vital management addressed their concerns to reassure employees and passengers.

Richard Hall, Lothian Buses managing director, said: “We’ve held amicable discussions with union officials over recent weeks and we hope that Unite will enter into next week’s meeting at Acas with a resolve to avoid strike action that would be damaging for Edinburgh’s population and visitors, as well as all our colleagues in the business.

“Of those who were eligible to vote, over 57% have voted for strike action. Over 36% opted not to take part in the ballot at all.

“Should the union take the decision to go out on strike, we will continue to work positively with all our colleagues across the business whether they have voted in favour or not.

“We sincerely hope that strike action will be averted, however.”