BUS DRIVERS working for First Group in Bristol are threatening to strike over an attack by management. At a mass meeting last weekend the drivers decided to give First Group two days to retreat before beginning a ballot.
The drivers are angry that their employers are using a system of 'mystery customers' to entrap drivers. One driver told Socialist Worker, 'Seven drivers have now been sacked, suspended or have resigned since management began this campaign. The 'mystery customer' gets on, and sometimes directly entraps the driver by underpaying. More often the person just watches until somebody else underpays, puts money down but doesn't take a ticket, or avoids payment. All of this is common at busy periods. The company spy then uses a mobile to call a uniformed inspector who gets on a couple of stops down. They have been adding the disciplinary stuff together with drivers' sick records to justify sacking people.'
The drivers have told First Group that they have to withdraw the mystery customers and separate workers' sick records from their disciplinary records. If this does not happen an indicative ballot for action will be held. The issue has become a focus for drivers' anger about working conditions.
One driver said, 'First Group announced profits of £150 million. Meanwhile we have to work 50 or 60 hours a week to get a living wage.'