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Campaigners rally in support of Manchester's first female bus driver — who was forced out of her job for being too short

CAMPAIGNERS rallied today in support of the first female bus driver at Go North West’s Manchester depot, who was forced out of her job for being too short.

Tracey Scholes’s supporters joined Unite reps to demand her reinstatement ahead of a final appeal against the “blind intransigence” of bosses at the bus company, part of the Go Ahead Group.

Managers “essentially designed Tracey out of her job” last year, the transport union charged after repositioning wing mirrors on some vehicles as part of a specification change.

Being five foot tall, Ms Scholes is now physically unable to operate some buses.

In November, Go North West ruled that she no longer had the capability to drive some of its vehicles.

Following an appeal she faces dismissal unless she accepts a move to driving school buses where the wing mirrors have not been repositioned.

The change will result in Ms Scholes losing five hours pay a week, equating to about £230 a month, Unite said.

The union, which stressed management only need to find their member one hour of work a day, warned the firm’s reputation in Britain and abroad will be “tarnished forever” if it does not save her job. 

More than 25,000 people have signed a petition calling for Ms Scholes’s reinstatement and over a thousand people have written to company chairman Christian Schreyer calling on him to intervene, leading to international media attention.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “Tracey Scholes was the first woman bus driver at the Manchester depot. Her appointment broke the mould for women in the bus industry. 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.

“But that is exactly what is happening. From Poland to Turkey, from Norway to Indonesia, media reports have pilloried the bull-headed stance of local Go Ahead management.”

A spokesperson for the firm claimed it had “sought a constructive dialogue on this issue and offered reasonable adjustments to working conditions.

“We regret the fact that our offers have been rejected.”

Ms Scholes’s petition can be found here at mstar.link/TraceyScholesPetition.

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