Belfast Telegraph

Action sees bus driver reinstated

Scores of bus drivers have abandoned their vehicles in Belfast city centre for around an hour in a bid to get a suspended colleague reinstated.

Union leaders hailed the action on Friday a success after receiving assurances that the Metro service driver had been allowed back to work. They also apologised for the inconvenience to passengers stranded during the late-morning protest. Bus operators Translink said the action was unofficial and unnecessary.

It is understood the driver was suspended over an incident involving the handle 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.

Unite shop steward Michael Dornan addressed the protesting drivers outside City Hall. "We have stood together and got our colleague back into employment and will ensure it never happens again," he told them.

After 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."

He 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," he said.

"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."

Long queues formed at taxi ranks during the protest as passengers sought alternatives means of completing their journey. A news statement from Translink said: "This action is not necessary and will only serve to inconvenience our passengers."

The operator later confirmed that the action had ended and bus services resumed.

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