More than 25,000 people have signed a petition on behalf of a five-foot tall bus driver who was fired because she was “not tall enough” to use mirrors safely.
Tracey Scholes, 57, drove buses for 34 years and was one of the first female bus drivers in Manchester. However, when Go North West changed the model of the bus used on their route, the mother of three was found to lack the “ability” to operate the vehicles safely.
The position of the side mirrors on the new buses meant that Heywood’s Tracey had to lean around a pillar to see them, which meant she couldn’t keep her feet on the pedals safely.
Because of this, Tracey was offered a different job driving the company’s school buses, although that would mean reduced hours worked and reduced pay.
The company also offered the bus driver their current rate of pay, but with reduced hours, meaning they would still lose around £ 230 a month, union Unite said. She declined both positions and subsequently received her notice.
Tracey’s story quickly went viral and has since gained the support of celebrities including actors Maxine Peake, Julie Hesmondhalgh and James Quinn. And now a petition set up to support Tracey has won 26,784 signatures at the time of writing.
The goal of the petition is that it calls on the company “to reinstate Tracey Scholes with no loss of pay / no loss of hours and to show that ‘Go-Ahead Group’ values loyal key workers.”
The description reads: “Tracey Scholes has been a bus driver at the Queens Road depot for 34 years. When Tracey began her journey as a bus driver in 1987, she was the first female bus driver employed at the Queens Road depot.
“Back then the industry was very male-dominated and a woman in a driving position was difficult to say the least, but Tracey rose to the challenge and had the full respect of all of her colleagues.
“Tracey is a hard-working, loved and appreciated member of the NW / 5/4 Branch and the Queens Road family who deserves to be congratulated on her years of service to the traveling public of Greater Manchester.”
Tracey described the support as “overwhelming,” with her testimony The Guardian: “I have three children, I am a widow and I have a mortgage to pay. I cannot take a pay cut.
“When I started this job thirty-four years ago, I could do everything in this depot. And since they did that, I can’t drive this bus now.
“If a bicycle or a pedestrian was walking on the near side of the vehicle… I can’t see it, it blocks my vision, and it’s not safe.
Go North West has since addressed the incident, saying in a statement, “Tracey was a valued member of our team at Go North West and we are extremely sorry to see her go. The mirror designs on our buses were agreed upon after consultation. with Unite some time ago All of our other drivers of similar height to Tracey can safely view them.
“When Tracey raised a concern with us, we made a number of suggestions to accommodate her, including offering to put her on different routes and different types of buses. Unfortunately, all of our suggestions were rejected.
“It’s hard to find dedicated, experienced and hardworking bus drivers so we would never act lightly in a situation like this. We are sorry that we had no choice but to terminate the employment of this driver.
For more information and to pledge your support, visit the petition here.