ABERDEEN has been left facing chaos at Christmas with a series of Festive Season strikes by bus drivers in the city.
Drivers employed by First Aberdeen, the city’s main bus operator, have voted by a massive majority in favour of industrial action, including strikes, after voting overwhelmingly to reject the latest wage offer from management.
The first in a series of one day strikes could be set for two of the busiest shopping days in the run up to Christmas - Saturday 15 December and Saturday 22 December.
The First Bus workers - drivers, cleaner and ancillary staff - who are members of the Unite union voted 207 to 21 in favour of the protest action after refusing the offer of a backdated one per cent pay increase.
Tommy Campbell, the regional organiser of the Unite union, declared: “It comes as no surprise to the union that the ballot result is such a substantive majority. It’s a clear message to the company from their own workforce that enough is enough and it’s time to pay up - stop being mean and being Scrooge like at Christmas time.
“The company has been making profits and they should stop sharing it only with their shareholders and give some of it back to the workers.”
He added: “The formal legal notice of industrial action will be served on the company tomorrow, outlining the dates and times of the proposed industrial action. This still gives the company time to come and negotiate with us. It is our preference to negotiate a resolution to this dispute without recourse to industrial action.”
It is understood that plans are already being drawn for all day strikes on the two Saturdays before Christmas and periodic strikes lasting no more than two hours during the week.
Bob Collier, the chief executive of Grampian and Aberdeen Chamber of Commerce, warned: “Strikes will greatly inconvenience shoppers, almost certainly cause congestion, and have a negative impact on retailers in the city centre at one of their busiest times.
“Given members’ concerns about the state of the city centre in general, and Union Street in particular, this is not good news for Aberdeen. We would urge both sides to find a solution which does not cause a problem for residents and businesses alike.”
Meanwhile strike dates on the Northern Isles ferry routes have been announced by the RMT union for members working on the Serco Northlink Ferries services to Orkney and Shetland.
The long running dispute is over plans to axe more than 30 jobs. Industrial action on the Shetland to Aberdeen route will take place on 15, 22 and 29 December, on the Aberdeen,Orkney, and Shetland service on 17, 24 and 31 December and on the Orkney to Scrabster route on 14, 21 and 28 December.