Unite fears in-service buses may be on verge of blow out

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The Unite union says it’s concerned Ulsterbuses may be ferrying thousands of passengers around our streets with tyres on the verge of blow out after a female bus driver was suspended for refusing to drive a vehicle with worn tyres.

However, Translink has denied the bus in question was ever operated in an unsafe condition and that it has a robust regime of vehicle inspection and its procedures comply with the highest industry standards.

Unite Regional Officer, Davy McMurray, has called on Translink management to come clean on what he described as the devastating impact of austerity cuts on safety in the public transport company.

“Our union is committed to defend public transport in Northern Ireland and whilst we continue to engage constructively to find genuine offsetting savings to safeguard frontline services and jobs, our members will not stand idly by when they have concerns over passenger safety.

“In the interests of public accountability, we are posting on our webpage some pictures taken by one of our members of a tyre on a vehicle that was adjudged by Translink engineering management to be safe to drive.

“The vehicle’s driver was suspended without pay after refusing to take it on the road although she has been reinstated following Unite representations on the issue to senior management.

“Our fear is that this is not an isolated incident and that management are intent on turning a blind eye to safety concerns in order to avoid incurring costs and to live within the reduced budget provided by the Stormont Executive.

“While we recognise the insurmountable challenges posed by the severity of austerity cuts, our drivers and engineers will not be silent when passenger safety is compromised,” Mr McMurray concluded.

A Translink spokesperson said: “We are fully committed to ensuring we maintain our vehicles to the highest standards with the safety of passengers and staff paramount.

“We are aware of the issue detailed in the UNITE press statement and can confirm the vehicle was inspected by engineering staff and our tyre supplier who all confirmed that at no time was the vehicle operated in an unsafe condition.”

The company says it has a stringent set of checks and balances in place to make sure that the health and safety of the public and its staff is safeguarded.

“We have a robust regime of vehicle inspection and our procedures comply with the highest industry standards.

“We continue to engage with our staff and representative trade unions on all matters relating to safety.”