HUNDREDS of bus workers could walk out during the Christmas period in strike action at over an allegation that bosses attempted to sack a driver who was disciplined following an incident involving a passenger.

Martin Conder, 52, was assaulted by a passenger while driving a Yellow Buses 1a service to Bournemouth on October 7.

Other passengers on the bus came to the driver’s aid and the passenger involved in the incident was removed from the bus and left on the street.

Unite said no complaints were made against Mr Conder, who is a shop steward, and he followed the correct procedure, reporting the incident to management. However, the union said bosses then tried to sack him. This failed but the union representative was given a final written warning. Mr Conder’s appeal is due to be on November 15.

Unite regional officer Janet Wall said: “Workers are preparing to vote on industrial action following a consultative ballot where 98 per cent of union members called for a strike vote.

“With the ballot result due on November 21, a strike could happen over the Christmas period if workers vote for action.

“The workforce are fully behind Martin, he’s well respected. Workers are not prepared to see their shop steward treated so badly.”

Ms Wall added: “We hope management thinks again, works with Unite to repair the damage they have done and gets back to business as usual for the residents of Bournemouth.”

Unite said Mr Conder sought advice from police and was told he had done the right thing during the incident.

The union adds that during his disciplinary Mr Conder was told by bosses he should have used his mobile phone to report the incident but having a mobile phone switched on in the driver’s cab is against the company’s own regulations and using a mobile phone could even result in the sack.

David Squire, managing director of Yellow Buses, said the firm are aware of Unite’s intention to hold a ballot. He said: “The appeal process has not yet been completed so we would urge Unite to engage in the processes that exist to arbitrate on such cases. We hope that the matter can be resolved without the need for any action. As the police are still investigating the original incident we are unable to comment further about it.

“The prospect of strike action is both destabilising for our passengers and undermines all the positive work that has been done to improve the company’s performance.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said investigations into the incident, which took place on the bus when it was in Barrack Road, Christchurch, at around 9.20am on October 7, are ongoing.

It was reported to police that a man verbally abused the driver and other passengers before assault the passengers. No arrests have been made.