Aberdeen bus drivers have been told refusing proposed changes at work could result in potential “termination of employment”.
A row between transport operator First Bus and its employees have been ongoing for months over new terms and conditions for drivers.
The bus firm has entered negotiations with drivers on the proposed contracts that was rejected by Unite the Union members last month.
It has been claimed that if new contracts are forced upon staff it would lead to less holiday entitlement, longer working hours and benefits being slashed. However, in a letter sent to staff, it has been said that drivers contracts could be terminated.
In the letter, Andrew Jarvis, managing director of First Aberdeen, said: “It will allow us to discuss with you the reasons for your refusal to agree to the proposed change.
“If you refuse to agree to the proposed change, a potential outcome being the termination of employment and offer of re-engagement and the effect that this will have on your employment.”
The letter goes onto state that staff will be accompanied to the meeting by a trade union representative or a workplace colleague.
On Sunday, drivers staged a protest outside the firm’s King Street depot against the new deal. This is after 98.4% of drivers balloted on the new deal opted to turn down the contract with only four voting in favour.
Staff at the bus operator have said they are worried about a serious accident occurring due to all the stress they are under.
A statement on behalf of First Aberdeen drivers said: “Things are not improving any and in fact they are a whole lot worse as the second round of one-to-one meetings have started. It has seen numerous drivers breaking down and having to be consoled by workmates who are worried about their futures and their families.
“We are physically and mentally breaking down and our emotions are all over the place.
“We desperately seek the support of the Aberdeen public in any way they can to help save there being a serious accident in our city because of all the stress we are under because of this.”
First Aberdeen operations director, David Phillips said: “First Aberdeen are currently undertaking individual consultation meetings with all of the drivers concerned with regards to the proposed changes to their current terms and conditions. There are no planned redundancies as part of this process.
“Drivers have been invited to meetings to discuss the proposals and we will listen to any representations that they might have during these meetings.
“We will seriously consider the opinions of all our impacted employees, however, if we are unable to reach agreement with each individual employee, we may have to consider termination of an employee’s existing terms and conditions of employment with an immediate offer of re-engagement on the proposed new terms and conditions.
“This process is not something that we have entered lightly, but it is something that we deem absolutely necessary given the current economic climate in Aberdeen.
“In the scenario of a driver rejecting the new contract proposals offered, then the business will consider serving notice on the existing terms whilst also offering immediate re-engagement on the new proposed terms and conditions, with no break in service.
“First Aberdeen’s main priority is to protect the business and therefore protect jobs and we cannot emphasise enough the importance of this process to sustaining a long-term future for the business in the city.”