Lothian Buses drivers face sack for social media posts criticising management

A BUS driver has been sacked and up to ten others suspended for complaining about bosses on a closed Facebook group.

Employees at Lothian Buses say the move against colleagues is the latest example of a growing problem of bullying and harassment by management at the council-owned bus company – and some drivers are calling for a walk-out in protest.

One source said: “A guy was suspended because he had the temerity to speak about a boss on a closed Facebook page for drivers.”

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Another insider said: “One driver at Marine garage was sacked over an alleged breach of the so-called social media policy, and there have been a number suspended over the same thing. One of the drivers has also had his pay stopped. It’s coming up to Christmas and he has a family to support.

“People are saying it’s like a witch hunt. But now drivers are increasingly wanting to do something about it. It may lead to industrial action.”

The insider said individual managers were not named in the social media comments.

He also said one of the offending posts had been about the company’s new uniform: “The drivers don’t like the new uniform at all and someone suggested on the Facebook page they should all turn up in their old uniforms in protest, But someone else took a screenshot [of the comments] and handed it to managers.”

Incidents of bullying, he said, included a manager grabbing a driver’s headphones and saying he was not allowed to wear them, and a similar confrontation involving a hat. Another occurred when a driver was accused of wearing a fleece under his company jacket and a manager who wanted to discuss the matter prevented the driver from leaving the office even though his shift was over.

“Drivers have had enough. Morale in the garages is at an all-time low. They’re ready to go for industrial action.”

One driver said: “The issues are 90 per cent the same as the grievances the tram drivers had.” Drivers at Edinburgh Trams voted 70 per cent in favour of a strike at Christmas over claims of a “hostile and aggressive management culture” which it was claimed had led to “harsh and unjust” disciplinary action. The action was called off earlier this month when management and union leaders reached an agreement.

Conservative transport spokesman Nick Cook said: “The issues raised by Lothian Buses employees are concerning and should be fully investigated.”

A spokeswoman for Lothian Buses said they would not comment on individual circumstances relating to employees, but said: “Lothian has a robust social media policy in place which offers stringent protection and support for both the people within our organisation and our customers.

“We have established procedures that have been agreed with our trade union and are followed at all times. We advise any employee with concerns to speak to one of their local managers or stewards directly.”