Bus drivers in Glasgow are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over public safety.
Unite announced today that drivers with First Glasgow will be consulted on whether to take action, including strikes.
The union claims service changes proposed by the group, which it believes will start in October, will result in “significant cuts” in running times and recovery times for drivers.
It said the introduction of the changes, without any consultation, will be a “direct threat” to public safety in a “drive to further increase profits”.
It was also suggested that by cutting running times, there will also be a reduction in the number of buses available to the public.
However, First Bus has said they were in the “consultation phase of proposed network changes”, which aim to bring improvements for customers, trade union comment will be sought on these and safety is the company’s top priority.
The consultative ballot by the union will take place in September.
Unite’s national convener Mick Dowds said: “Unite members are furious that at a time when public safety is paramount and after Unite welcomed the Speed Awareness Agreement alongside supporting other health and safety initiatives such as Destressing the Driver, First Glasgow is blatantly scurrying around with a new set of rosters.
“This will directly impact on drivers’ well-being and could have a catastrophic effect on passengers and the public.
“First Group announced some time ago that it intended to sell its passenger operations, including its flagship First Glasgow company.
“This latest development highlights exactly why Unite has been calling on local authorities such as Glasgow to bring passenger services back into public and municipal ownership.
“This is essential to ensure services meet the needs of communities and those most vulnerable in society rather than having diminished services in the chase for profit.”
Andrew Jarvis, managing director of First Bus in Scotland, said he was “disappointed” with the union’s decision and that it had gone public with its concerns “given we are at an early stage in the process”.
He said: “I can confirm that nothing as yet has been registered with the Traffic Commissioner’s office and we are still very much in the consultation phase of the proposed network changes that Unite have raised concerns over.
“We are striving to make things better for the customer by making bus travel simple, speeding up bus boarding times, reducing journey times wherever possible, using data to make better operational decisions and developing a customer relationship as opposed to a transactional one.
“As part of this process, we are using data to assess our network performance across a number of areas, including running time.
“These proposals will be fully reviewed and tested, as is our standard practice in this scenario, and nothing as yet is set in stone. We would always seek the input of our trade union colleagues and staff in this scenario to ensure their feedback is taken into account.
“The safety of our staff, customers and other road users are our number one priority and this is something we will never compromise on.”