BUS drivers in Glasgow are to be balloted for strike action over changes to routes which union leaders claim risks passenger safety and will lead to a reduction in service.

Unite the Union said 97.5 per cent of members had criticised the company’s apparent lack of consultation with drivers over the new routes.

They claim the change - due to come into force next month - will lead to direct cuts to running times, service routes and recovery times for drivers.

First said it had delayed a final decision on the proposed changes by a week to allow for further talks to take place with union officials and a meeting is scheduled for later this week.

Unite claims the introduction of the changes are motivated by a drive to further increase profits in advance of a potential sale of the company. First Group has announced it is to sell its UK bus operations including the profitable First Glasgow routes.

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If the ballot is successful, industrial action is likely to take place in October to coincide with the introduction of the new service changes.

Mick Dowds, Unite’s National Convenor, stated “First Glasgow drivers have sent the company a crystal clear message.

"If you continue with these cuts to services, cuts to recovery times for drivers, and cuts to communities from October then we will take you head on.

"The arrogance of management has been breath-taking, and in our view it is all part of a tee-up operation to squeeze as much from the workforce and the public prior to any sell-off.

"We will not allow this to go unchallenged, and if the ballot is successful then drivers will bring First Glasgow’s bus operations to a halt in defence of the workers and the public who rely on this service.”

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Duncan Cameron, Operations Director of First Glasgow said: “The safety of our staff, customers and other road users is our number one priority and this is something we will never compromise on.

"We are disappointed to read some of the comments from our trade union colleagues, bearing in mind discussions remain ongoing.

“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 have delayed the decision by an extra week to allow for further discussions with our trade union colleagues and we have a meeting in the diary this week for further talks.

“These proposals will be fully reviewed and tested as is our standard practice in this scenario and nothing as yet is set in stone."

The ballot development comes as Unite released the findings of a UK wide survey involving over 13,500 workers operating in bus driving, construction and the lorry driving sectors.

The survey reveals that 44 per cent of bus drivers work at least six days a week and 79 per cent reported that in the past year they had made errors while driving due to tiredness, while 10 per cent had actually fallen asleep while driving.

The Evening Times has contacted First Glasgow for comment.