BUS drivers in Glasgow employed by First are to be balloted for strike action over service changes, union leaders claim will compromise public safety. 

Unite today officially informed First Glasgow that it intends to ballot drivers for industrial action next month, including strikes.

The dispute centres on service changes beginning in October, which the union claim will result in significant cuts in running times and recovery times for drivers.

Unite believes the introduction of the changes, without, it says, any consultation, will be a direct threat to public safety and are motivated by profit.

Read more: Vital bus route axed as First puts 'profit before people' 

The union said it was the "first time" that no consultation has taken place ahead of service changes and believes that they will result in a reduction of buses available to the public.

First say the service changes are "not set in stone" and said it was disappointed that the union had taken the decision to ballot for industrial action "at such an early stage."

Mick Dowds, Unite’s National Convenor, said: “Unite members are furious that at a time when public safety is paramount and after Unite welcomed the Speed Awareness Agreement alongside supporting other health and safety initiatives such as ‘Destressing the Driver’, First Glasgow is blatantly scurrying around with a new set of rosters.

"This will directly impact on drivers’ wellbeing and could have a catastrophic effect on passengers and the public.”

“First Group announced some time ago that it intended to sell its passenger operations including its flagship First Glasgow company. 

Read more: Passengers in Glasgow in line for bus fare rises  

"This latest development highlights exactly why Unite has been calling on local authorities such as Glasgow to bring passenger services back into public and municipal ownership.

"This is essential to ensure services meet the needs of communities and those most vulnerable in society rather than having diminished services in the chase for profit.”

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director of First Bus in Scotland said: “We are disappointed that our trade union colleagues have decided to go public with their concerns given we are at an early stage in the process.

"I can confirm that nothing as yet has been registered with the Traffic Commissioner’s office and we are still very much in the consultation phase of the proposed network changes that Unite have raised concerns over.

“We are striving to make things better for the customer by making bus travel simple, speeding up bus boarding times, reducing journey times wherever possible, using data to make better operational decisions and developing a customer relationship as opposed to a transactional one.

“These proposals will be fully reviewed and tested as is our standard practice in this scenario and nothing as yet is set in stone. We would always seek the input of our trade union colleagues and staff in this scenario to ensure their feedback is taken into account.

“The safety of our staff, customers and other road users are our number one priority and this is something we will never compromise on."