Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition in support of a bus driver who was sacked for being 'too short'.
Tracey Scholes, a widow and mum-of-three, was given notice after the operator Go North West repositioned their wing mirrors in such a way that as she could no longer reach them safely.The Unite union claim it led to a ruling by Go North West that Tracey - who is five foot tall -no longer had the ‘capability’ to safely drive their buses.The firm offered an alternative role at the company on their school buses, which have suitable wing mirrors, but for less hours and a cut rate of pay.
When the mother, from Heywood, in Rochdale turned that offer down, her bosses - who say they have made attempts to keep her in the business - gave her notice.
Tracey has been a bus driver at the Queens Road depot, at Cheetham Hill in Manchester, for more than three decades.
When she started her career in 1987, she was the first female bus driver to be employed.
Mrs Scholes has gathered support from a string of celebrities, including Bolton-born actress and Anne star Maxine Peake and Corrie's Julie Hesmonhalgh.
After an appeal, the company agreed to offer her current pay rate but with reduced hours, meaning she would still be losing £230 a month, Unite said.
Tracey is now making a second appeal to keep her current hours, which would mean working just one extra hour a day.
A petition, set up to support her cause, has gathered more than 24,000 signatures in less than a month.
Tracey, who says the stress of the process is taking an emotional toll on her health, she said: "If it justifies them paying me another hour a day I'll do admin work or clean a bus."If they gave me that extra five hours I'd take the deal but they won't budge."There are simple things they can do and they are refusing. I'm sure it wouldn't break the bank for them to pay me the hours they have been for years."Tracey added: "There's been so much support, it's overwhelming."
Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: "The management at Go North West only have to find Tracey one hour of work a day to solve this amicably.
"It's not much for Go North West but it's a lot for Tracey. Instead, the company seems hell-bent on confrontation.
"Tracey has her union’s full support and I am ready to ramp up Unite's campaign. "
A Go North West spokesman said: "“Go-Ahead is committed to treating every one of its 27,000 colleagues with fairness, dignity and respect.
"With the support of Unite, new wing mirrors are being introduced to many UK buses for safety reasons, to avoid long-arm mirrors being snapped off through contact with tree branches and street furniture.
"Driving seats and mirrors on all our vehicles are adjustable to suit each individual’s stature. We have 13,000 bus drivers UK-wide of varying height, including a number who are five foot or below, and only one driver has raised a concern.
"Go North West has worked hard to find a solution for the individual concerned by offering alternative vehicles, routes and schedules at a protected rate of pay. These include alternatives with equivalent weekly hours. All our proposals have been turned down.
"We have sought a constructive dialogue on this issue and offered reasonable adjustments to working conditions. We regret the fact that our offers have been rejected.”