An industrial action ballot involving 1,050 bus drivers working for Arriva Southern Counties opens today (Monday 14 November) over fears that a new ‘mystery shopper’ scheme will be used to fire experienced drivers, their union, Unite announced today.
Bus drivers operating out of nine depots across Essex, Kent and Surrey are involved in the dispute which follows a recent survey showing that a quarter of bus workers at Arriva Southern Counties have been bullied.
The drivers, who have never been trained in customer service and have been kept in the dark by bosses over the standard to which they will be secretly assessed, fear the scheme will be used to fire them rather than improve the service for passengers.
Unite is urging Arriva Southern Counties to lift the cloak of secrecy from the scheme and tackle the bullying culture, in addition to introducing training similar to that being given to all London bus drivers under the ‘Hello London’ scheme.
Unite regional officer Dave Weeks said: “Drivers at Arriva Southern Counties have been kept in the dark over the mystery shopper scheme and the criteria on which they will be assessed.
“They want to be the best and provide excellent customer satisfaction, but with a recent survey showing a quarter of drivers had been bullied at the firm, they are left fearful that the scheme will be used to fire them rather than improve customer satisfaction.
“If Arriva Southern Counties’ bosses are serious about driving up standards then they should bring in similar training to that which has been introduced on London’s buses and lift the shroud of secrecy from the ‘mystery shopper’ scheme.
“It’s time for bosses to sort the culture of bullying and get around the table to negotiate a proper plan which delivers continued customer satisfaction.”
The nine depots involved in the dispute are: Colchester, Gillingham, Guildford, Harlow, Maidstone, Northfleet, Sheerness, Southend and Tunbridge Wells. The ballot closes on Friday 25 November 2016.
For further information please contact Unite head of media and campaigns Alex Flynn on 020 3371 2066 or 07967 665869.
Notes to editors
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.