Brighton bus drivers mull strike action over ‘bullying and harassment’

Posted On 24 May 2016 at 1:43 pm

Brighton and Hove bus drivers are to be asked whether they would consider going on strike this week over issues including alleged harassment, bullying and short staffing.

Brighton and Hove Bus
The Unite union has written to its members at Brighton and Hove Buses informing them it will hold a consultative industrial action ballot on Thursday this week.

It says its members are “fed up to the back teeth” of being asked to do overtime, often at a few hours notice, with calls being made in the middle of the night.

In a letter to its members, Unite said: “Members approach us every day saying they are fed up to the back teeth of being pestered to do overtime, and made to feel as though they are letting the ‘team’ down when they refuse.

“Yet because of managements own short sightedness and mismanagement, members can’t take lieu days they have rightfully accrued because of staff shortages

“The company is quite happy to harass and harangue drivers to do overtime, whether they are at work or even at home, and leaving messages on their phones and texting while driving. Calling sick members to ask when they will be returning to work rather than showing genuine concern for sick employees.”

Martin Harris, the managing director of Brighton and Hove Buses, declined to comment on the specific allegations made by the union, but said that discussions are ongoing.

He said: “We are and have been discussing a number of internal allegations with the Unite trade union representatives. We have no wish to discuss those matters publicly and from the public’s point of view, no need to do so at the present moment in time.”

  1. Gerald Wiley Reply

    If, as it appears, the effectively “monopoly” bus company in the city can not manage to hold on to drivers due to the way they treat drivers, then it is up to their management to change their ways. Could this very lack of management skills be the very reason they are under-staffed?

    It is probably symptomatic of the way they also treat the poor ‘punters’ that use their services.

    Every year they have ‘above inflation’ increases and come up with some ‘creative’ reason and then condescendingly explain the ‘take it or leave it’ reason to us – knowing of course that they are a monopoly; that the cartel of other minor bus companies will just follow suit; and that we have no choice but to accept the service provided.

    What we need is some real competition on the buses in the city – and before anyone say it – cycling or walking is not really an option outside the centre of Brighton – the council is trying to get us to stop using private transport, but the alternative is too expensive compared to driving to, and parking in, other towns in the area – unless of course, you are a pensioner and get free bus travel – paid for by car owners.

    Brighton Area Buswatch is of no help whatsoever and just seems to be a tame ‘fan boy’ organisation that repeats the marketing messages of the various bus companies and doesn’t reflect the views of users – see

    What we need is a proper bus service users group to hold Brighton & Hove Buses (and the rest of the Go Ahead group that owns Metrobus, Southern Railway and Thameslink) to task.

    • Me Reply

      But they don’t have a Monopoly, silly! As the MD said in a recent interview justifying another price hike ‘there is Stagecoach, trains and taxis people can use, so we don’t have a monopoly’ (I am paraphrasing, but that was the general gist.) I would love very another company to come along and give them a run for their money, especially along the costal routes but can’t see it happening unfortunately 🙁

      • Gerald Wiley Reply

        According to the 1998 Competition Act, abuse of dominant power means that a firm can ‘behave independently of competitive pressures’.

        Brighton & Hove Buses set the pricing for fares to a level they think they can get away with, and the remaining companies just form part of a cartel that willingly pass on fare increases to customers.

        It IS an effective monopoly for anyone wanting to travel into the city. Stagecoach is only any good if you want to travel to the west along the seafront. Compass only operate a few bus routes – mainly the ones that Brighton & Hove didn’t want to run as they weren’t profitable. Metrobus is just another Go Ahead company, and Big Lemon is only any good for 1 route.

        Taxis are much too expensive and you need to get to railway stations to use trains and guess who runs almost all of them – Go Ahead. The only real alternative is to get in your car and drive to other towns and cities in the area due to the exhorbitant parkinbg fees in the centre of Brighton.

        As such the MD is, yet again, spinning tales to justify the monopoly they DO have.

    • Paul Parletti Reply

      Concessionary passes aren’t just paid for by motorist’s, we pay for this scheme through council tax.
      £927 million was last year’s bill which something that should be addressed.
      As for the dispute, if they treated the drivers better then everyone would benefit.
      You now have a private monopoly and please don’t forget they have a large slice of the Govia consortium who run Southern and GTR, was this what bus deregulation was supposed to achieve, I don’t think so.
      After thirty years in the industry I feel like the traffic commissioner and the monopolies and mergers commission should step up and allow smaller operators easier access to the market and not just the big boys.

  2. Andy Reply

    I agree with the above posters comments to some degree, but why every time that a dispute arises, somehow it always comes back to the poor OAP. We don’t control fares and unlike some other groups have paid tax and NI for longer than most complainers have been alive.

    • Gerald Wiley Reply

      But don’t OAPs get free pass passes that result in Brighton & Hove Buses getting a whopping 90p everytime you board a bus?

  3. Trev Reply

    All this aggro and with nearly 100 drivers short

  4. Trev Reply

    May be putting my job on the line here but here goes. There has been one driver at a garage who drove a bus without the correct entitlement and was brushed under the carpet by management. There was another who also didn’t renew his licence while off sick. Management seem to be intent on making morale non existent in any depot. Apparently a supervisor in the Hove depot has been demoted to driver due to poor management because he supported drivers and stood up to management. I have been called while off sick. I have even had voicemail left on my phone asking why I’m not doing overtime and how I’m letting the team down.

  5. malcolm marshall Reply

    Just like everything else thoses at the top want more money, and they Don’t give a monkey’s how they get it, Camaron and co are also to blame.

  6. jiminy-frick'it Reply

    Also a driver at B&H here…. I have not been with the company for long. But I thoroughly enjoy my job!!! But the severity of their staffing issues demands some serious attention!! I do an awful lot of overtime, but I do it for the money, and not for the company! And now that it has become known that I do a lot of overtime I have found that it is somewhat expected of me!!! One supervisor offered me overtime a couple of weeks ago, and when I told them I couldn’t do it… The response I got was “well I got to say I’m disappointed in you, I thought you were the man!!”

    This is exactly the kind of bullying and harassment the union are talking about!!! You simply can not treat your staff like that and expect to get away with it!

    I for one will be voting YES to the strike!

  7. joe beaver Reply

    Its not just the driver’s. Its happening across the board in the company. Its our way or the highway.if you dont like it there’s the door.thats the management attitude towards its staff

  8. Joe beaver Reply

    Company crappy attitude is across the board.if you dont like it there’s the door. Has been this way since roger french left. All this to keep shareholders happy.

  9. A DRIVER Reply


  10. Private Reply

    More than half the busses drive round with a hand full of people on them at best . Far too many busses and the drivers are so often obnoxious and rude.

  11. Dave Reply

    Having worked for the company for several years, I can truly say that this is the lowest I have ever seen morale. Drivers are feeling the pressure from services missing from routes due to no take over drivers or lack of buses. The companies answer……..lets harass everyone to do more and then when they fall ill from over doing a physical amount of work and go sick, the companies answer…….lets call them at home and make them feel guilty until they come back to work. If there are accidents,companies answer……..bring them in as soon as possible and threaten them with the seriousness of their effects on cost and issue a warning.
    There are many a good driver I have seen leave due to the poor management or new management trying to make their mark, is this working???? quite clearly not, drivers are leaving quicker than they are coming through the training school. If there are issues brought to the management attention then its just swept under the carpet from one level to the next,why? One supervisor even made homosexual comments to a driver, what come of it…NOTHING and this supervisor is still in place.People driving around without a license due to poor management and training schools not picking up on it, answer…….lets sling an egotistical member of staff in the drivers area and chase up all their licenses before we caught by the DVSA. If the drivers go on strike then its time to say YES YES YES how long do we have to put up with this type of behaviour, I think you’ll find this is called bullying!

    • Ben Flux Reply

      “egotistical member of staff on the driver area”
      Perhaps the member of staff was being asked to check if compliance was in order. That’s called doing their job.

      “People driving around without a license due to poor management”

      My licence -car/lorry/motorbike – is MY responsibility as is an LGV/PCV drivers CPC qualification, all you have to do is flip over a licence card, and read the date on the back.There is a system in place, which is why truckers and bus drivers i assume, have CPC cards -use your eyeballs, and take responsibility for your licence entitlement, you earned it, now protect it.
      And its “Licence” – check your spell check and re set it to UK.
      That’s as easy as flipping a card over, perhaps not in your case.

      Your initial points, in the first paragraph were and are indeed still valid. You quickly went downhill however in launching into a personal diatribe.

  12. Dickydave Reply

    Why is it harassment to be asked to work overtime, be it verbally, voicemail or whatever? Yes, we are short-staffed, so overtime is needed and encouraged, but a simple “No thank you” suffices.
    I have never felt bullied into it – cajoled, teased and pleaded with, yes, but never bullied or harassed.
    May I suggest that those of you who feel that you are, just try saying “No thank you” and what happens.
    Nothing will – nothing at all.

  13. D R Rogers-March Reply

    I worked for Brighton and Hove for ten years , I had to end my employment with them in june 2013 because of ill health , they were a great company to work for then , and yes i did miss it , the company looked after me when i had to finish , i will always have respect for Brighton and Hove

    • Pete Reply

      2013! Oh how things have changed obviously since you worked for them. They wouldn’t look after you now.

  14. Norman Reply

    As a Passenger I would back your strike as when in the past I have had to contact the Management they have been very unhelpful in all manners.
    Even with me I felt intimidated and bulled to just go away.

    Am also an ex bus driver for another company and I was a great believer in saying NO to over time. More so when they wanted you to go over your daily hours to bail them out.

    So please do stand your ground as this company does need to make many changes.

  15. Paul Walsh Reply

    is it realy unfair being asked to work overtime. happens in my job all the time. same as when your off sick the company has the rights to know if your coming in the next day. i used to work for the bus company until 6 weeks ago when i got fed up with all the moaning from other drivers who don’t know how well off they are. if they worked in London they wouldnt get half what they get in brighton!!!

  16. Private Reply

    Go-Ahead are very backward in their management style and it clearly dosnt work as all their depots across the board not just B&H are in the same desperate boat. From the passenger’s point of view, if you want to understand why the drivers are all miserable then you should understand the oppressive atmosphere that the drivers endure. The drivers seem to get the brunt of all the blame for everything as they are in the frontline and that includes picking up the slack from poor management and bickering departments trying to offload blame and financial pressure.
    The drivers are the real heroes in this present scenario and the only ones holding the business together but still the management can’t see they are slowly destroying their biggest asset!

  17. Simon Reply

    Rude and never on time…50/50 respect

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