Brighton and Hove Bus Drivers and engineers along with the subsidiary Metrobus in Crawley have today overwhelmingly decided upon taking industrial action.
The strike has been called due to accusations over the firms management style which has been described as increasingly repressive. There has recently been an upsurge in allegations in the firm relating to bullying, intimidation and furtive attempts at surveillance by management upon the workforce.
Brighton’s bus drivers aren’t happy.
Unite members, who belong to Britain’s biggest union voted 71.4% in favour of strike action with 83.3% backing industrial action without a strike. Unite blames the implementation of a new management team whose style has been described as extremely hardline. It’s alleged under new management that working conditions for Brighton’s bus drivers have deteriorated.
Brighton and Hove Buses refute all allegations.
Unite along with other Unions have encouraged bus managers to concentrate their efforts more upon changing the ‘culture of fear’ within the company.
Commenting Unite regional officer Janet Henney said:
“People used to love working at Brighton and Hove buses and it used to be held up as local model of good employment.
“This simply is not the case anymore with many of our members dreading going into work. They have had enough of being bullied, intimidated and spied on when on sick leave and want to see an end to the ‘Draconian’ management style which has created a culture of fear.
“Our members take great pride in keeping Brighton, Hove and Crawley on the move, but as the overwhelming backing for industrial action shows, have reached the end of line.
“Unite urges senior management to stop paying lip service to good industrial relations and start making the firm the model employer it was once again. Otherwise our members will be left with little option, but to give up a day’s pay and go on strike.”
Unite is yet to give Brighton and Hove Buses a date for the strike but under obligatory procedure they must give at least seven days notice.
Managing Director of Brighton and Hove Buses Martin Harris said:
“My focus is on resolving this dispute to establish a way forward that leaves our customers unaffected by disruption to their services and our colleagues and their representatives in position to mover forward. However, I completely refutes Unite’s claim that there is a culture of bullying and intimidation. It has no foundation in fact.
“We successfully engaged with UNITE many months ago to initiate a full suite of new employment policies many months ago setting out our standards of behaviour, including dealing with bullying if it arose. Individual allegations of bullying would be investigated with the trade union.
“It is alleged that staff have been bullied into working overtime, we do not accept that is the case. We would like to reiterate that overtime working by drivers, extra hours or rest day working are purely voluntary. We have worked hard to reduce a temporary driver shortage by bringing in extra staff to improve services and relieve pressure on our drivers.
“We do ask drivers if they are willing to work overtime. Indeed, it would be unfair not to ask them, as it is an opportunity for drivers to increase their income. But it is their prerogative to say no, and that is absolutely respected by us.
“Fewer drivers left this year than compared to last year. This level of turnover is common in the industry but in most months we have a lower than average turnover.
“It is encouraging that we are meeting again with Unite to seek to resolve our differences.”
This comes off the back of RMT’s decision for it’s train conductors for Southern Rail to walkout next week.
Corbyn rubbishes progressive pact with Lucas in Brighton
Jeremy Corbyn has today ruled out the possibility of an electorate pact with Brighton Pavilion’s Green MP Caroline Lucas as a ploy to prevent the Conservatives gaining seats in the city.
Corbyn, the Labour party leader denounced the idea of a progressive pact with the Green MP insisting he was “absolutely” confident of regaining Brighton for the Labour party in 2020. In fact he went on to announce his intentions to facilitate a repeat of the party’s landslide victory in the city back in 1997. This came as a reiteration of his intentions that he set out upon his visit to Brighton back in September for the Labour parties annual conference shortly after his leadership election victory.
Recent polls have been damming for the Labour party in the city, with an ICM poll this month suggesting Labour would lose its sole seat in the city if an election was to be held imminently under Mr Corbyn’s leadership.
A proposal the left-wing duo cannot agree upon.
Calls for an electoral pact had been intensified after shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis suggested a pact between Greens, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists as a way of returning a lift-wing government in 2020. Ms Lucas has also encouraged the idea of a progressive alliance to see a return to power of many left-wing politicians.
Mr Corbyn who spoke exclusively to the Argus earlier today didn’t hesitate to rule out such an idea, stating:
“At the moment no. What we are doing as a party committed to the Labour cause and position, in opposition in parliament in order to maximise votes against the government obviously we cooperate with other opposition parties.
“Does this translate into electoral pacts? No.”
Corbyn who arrived into the city by the Thameslink train service yesterday, joined a cast of highly prominent figures criticising the current train system stating it was much to the detriment of the city that the trainline is so insufficient and inadequate.
Corbyn suggested publish ownership of train operating companies and the reintroduction of the Uckfield line as solutions to the ongoing troubles with the cities main train line.