Belfast traffic brought to standstill as buses refuse to pick up passengers en route to city centre demo


A suspended bus driver in Belfast has today been re-instated after a wildcat strike by his colleagues brought the city’s public bus service to a juddering halt.

Passengers were left waiting at bus stops as more than 100 drivers  – Unite members – responded to calls on their internal radios, switching on their ‘Not in Service’ signs and heading from outlying areas to assemble at the City Hall, where they were joined by their GMB colleagues.

Unite senior shop steward Michael Dornan explained the driver had been suspended by ‘an overzealous manager’’.

“The driver was carrying out a routine on the bus which he does day in daily,” said Michael.

It is understood the driver was suspended over an incident involving the handling of the bus’s manual ramp for disabled passengers. The driver’s union said their member had been disciplined after allegedly breaking off the handle.

Michael Dornan told the protesting drivers outside City Hall: “We have stood together and got our colleague back into employment and will ensure it never happens again.”

As the drivers returned to their vehicles, Mr Dornan added: “I am pleased that we have got the assurance that the driver is back and we are now going to sit down with management in an attempt to get together a safer system, whatever we need to do to ensure no other driver will suffer from this because it is something that we do on a daily basis.

“It is something that we have to do. It’s something we are glad to do because it is something that aids and helps the disabled people.”

Michael said fellow drivers had given their colleague great support. “I am heartened at the support that they gave their colleague but the situation there was it could have happened to any one of them and that’s why they were outraged, and they wanted the assurance it wouldn’t happen to them.”

“They are conscious of what they have had to do. They are conscious of the discomfort that it has caused. They apologise for that. But what we wanted was assurances that it wouldn’t happen again and that’s what we are going to seek.”

* Robert Miller is a reporter for the Union Post. The latest edition can be downloaded here 

* Photo is of Michael Dornan


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