Brighton and Hove union representatives have held “crisis talks” with bus bosses about “heavy-handed” management.
Unite members threatened Brighton and Hove Bus Company bosses with ballots for strike action if ‘clear the air’ talks are not held.
In a letter copied to The Argus, trade union officials told members that a meeting was held last week after staff concerns about a “heavy-handed” management approach to discipline, which was causing morale to fall to its lowest levels.
Union figures said talks had been “useful” and they had left the company in “no doubt” about the severity of the situation.
A company insider said one of the flashpoints for dissatisfaction among staff was two members allegedly sacked for misdemeanours which staff believe in the past would not have warranted dismissal.
One bus driver who did not want to be named said employees felt there was a “take no prisoners” approach which had been introduced under managing director Martin Harris since he replaced long-serving bus boss Roger French in April last year.
He said: “Roger treated the place more as a family. We had our ups and downs but we had to get on.
“I think Martin sees it much more as a commercial enterprise and now there’s no love and there’s no soul, they are just focussing on the bottom line. They have brought in managers from all over and some people feel they have brought with them heavy-handed tactics.”
Mr Harris said: “I am really surprised that the internal discussions which we have all the time, normal dialogue between trade union reps and ourselves has been sent to a local newspaper. As in any business, it’s quite normal for us to hold discussions around misunderstandings and look to resolve issues.
“As far as we are concerned its business as usual and where we have issues to discuss we will get on and discuss them internally.
“There are changes and approaches in a number of areas but nothing that cannot be resolved through normal discussions between trade unions and ourselves.”