Campaign Launched For Bus Driver Sacked After 34 Years For Being ‘Too Short’
More than 25,000 people have joined a campaign to support one of Greater Manchester’s first female bus drivers after she was dismissed after 34 years of service for being ‘too short’.
Tracey Scholes started working on the buses back in 1987, and stands at 1.52m (5ft) tall. However, due to apparently lacking the ‘capability’ to drive the new model of bus that’s now used on her route, she’s been let go.
The combination of a change in position of wing mirrors and a pillar on an assault screen being installed to protect drivers means that Scholes would need to lean back to use the mirror, which would leave her unable to reach the pedals.
‘When I started that job 34 years ago, I could drive everything in that depot. And since they’ve done this, I can’t drive that bus now. If a bicycle or pedestrian was to walk up the near side of the vehicle … I can’t see that, it blocks my vision, and that’s not safe,’ Scholes said.
Scholes has been left disappointed by the decision and put her Christmas on hold given the financial uncertainly she’d been plunged into, The Guardian reports. ‘I’ve got three children, I’m a widow, and I’ve got a mortgage to pay. I can’t take a pay cut,’ she said.
Now, thousands of people have leapt to her defence and signed a petition calling for her bosses to give her back her job.
The petition reads: ‘Tracey is a hardworking, loved and valued member of the NW/5/4 Branch and the Queens Road family who deserves to be commended for her years of service to the traveling public of Greater Manchester, however Go North West Ltd has dismissed her from employment because THEY changed the manufacturer specification on their fleet of buses resulting in five foot tall Tracey being physically unable to operate some company vehicles.’
According to the petition, her employer Go North West Ltd did offer Tracey a new position in the company, but that it would see ‘Tracey’s pay and hours cut significantly leaving her in financial hardship’.
In addition to the support of the public, Tracey has also received support from a number of colleagues as well as celebrities, including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh, James Quinn and others.
Caroline Criado-Perez, author of Invisible Women, wrote that Scholes is still taller than the fifth percentile female crash test dummy that is mandated in one of the five EU car crash regulations.
‘So how is it that a bus could be built in such a way that someone who is taller than the 5th percentile female crash test dummy is designed out of being able to drive it?’ the author added.
Unite’s general secretary, Sharon Graham, has also supported Scholes’ reinstatement. ‘She has given 34 years of unblemished service. It seems inconceivable that due to the blind intransigence of its local management in Manchester, Go Ahead is now ready to watch unlimited damage to its international reputation as a result of the tawdry treatment of Tracey,’ she said.
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