Lothian Bus Drivers and Engineering Workers are set to make their own distinct impact of the Edinburgh Fringe when it starts on Friday (August 2nd). From 3am that morning the 1700 Unite members will be on indefinite strike against the toxic management culture.
By Tam Burke, Prospect Retired member and IMT Edinburgh
Lothian Buses proudly accepts the title of “Best Bus Service in Britain”, but in June Unite, the Union described “poor workplace relations and a hostile culture on Lothian Buses.”
Each week there are about 2 million journeys on the buses and an addition 300,000 each week during the Festival. No wonder the Management are whining about the strike being “damaging for Edinburgh’s population and visitors and our colleagues in the business.” These colleagues are the bus workers who’ve had more than enough of the high handed management they’ve patiently put up with.” said Lyn Turner, the Unite shop steward.
After months of discussions, with members showing they’d be prepared to strike, a last minute deal was reached. Workers would get an extra 2.7% pay increase and there would be further talks about the management bullying, including sending bosses on one day training courses to get them to stop.
Unite recommended the deal, describing is as a “good offer” and better than that made last time. However the rank and file workers hadhad enough. There are 1700 members and there was a 63% turnout for the ballot, which resulted in 91% of those voting supported the strike. This is testimony to the strength of feeling among the workers.
Lothian Buses came from the old Edinburgh Corporation Bus service, owned and run by the City Council. Now it’s part owned by the council. The buses need to be fully publicly owned again, with the management fully accountable. This can only be done through the control of the workers, council and the passengers having joint representation of the Management board and no private involvement at all.
This strike will be condemned for “undermining the local economy” (read profits for the business making a fortune from the over tourism) but we must stand firm against any villainising of the bus workers. The blame here, lies 100% with the management. All workers need to support the bus workers. It’s not about pay, but decent working conditions. SNP, Green Party ans Labour Party members should put push their local parties and council representatives to support the strike that run the Council. The Unite leadership must use this militancy to its full potential and we must rally to support the workers to the hilt, get out publicly in support, join the picket lines and rallies. Its not council bureaucrats and capitalists who run Edinburgh but the workers. A successful strike could inspire thousands of other Edinburgh workers in tourism, transport and service, who are annually exploited by the fringe to organise.
An end to bullying!
Public ownership under workers control!
Victory to the bus workers!