Anger at bus firm’s veil ruling – T&G threatens strike action

Lothian busesA bus company in Edinburgh has sparked anger over rules requiring drivers to ask Muslim women wearing the veil to show their faces. Religious groups and unions said the rules introduced by Lothian Buses to catch potential fare cheats were unnecessary. Passengers have been told to lift their veils or produce a passport or driving licence when boarding. The company said the rules brought them into line with airport security.

Sohaib Saeed, events co-ordinator at Edinburgh Central Mosque, said: “This seems quite unnecessary. You have to wonder how much of a problem this really is. People going to all the trouble of wearing a veil just to dodge a bus fare seems an incredible effort. This rule is intrusive and it’s singling people out.”

Osama Saeed, from the Muslim Association of Britain in Scotland, said: “In the current climate, I don’t think there are many women in Edinburgh wearing a veil, let alone getting on buses to evade fares.”

The Transport and General Workers’ Union (T&G) said bus drivers could go on strike unless the new rules were ditched. “Drivers are unhappy and uneasy about this. There’s a real risk of causing offence and their jobs are hard enough,” regional industrial organiser Sandy Smart said. “It’s not particularly clever, it’s a bad idea and Lothian Buses need to have a rethink.”

BBC News, 4 May 2007