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Blackpool bus drivers suspended for being 'too fat'; strike action possible

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Let's face it: driving a bus all day, you don't have too many opportunities to exercise.

So perhaps it comes as no surprise that when Blackpool Transport bus company decided to suspend two drivers for being 'too fat', it caused an uproar -- even among the svelter members of the workforce.

Indeed solidarity is such among transport workers in the northwest that strike action now seems a real possibility.

The bus company has instructed the suspended drivers to lose 3kg (7lb) each in the next month, insisting that the cabs on its buses are too small for any driver weighing more than 120kg (19 stone).

Similar concerns in Bristol last year led to FirstBus transport company suspending 11 drivers, whose weight ranged from 95 to 178kg, and who were ordered to take a company-sponsored health programme to shed 350kg between them in six weeks.

Trevor Roberts, Blackpool Transport's managing director, said: "Following professional medical advice, the company is dealing with some sensitive and personal issues confidentially and through internal procedures, so that our customers and staff are not put at risk."

But Blackpool Labour group leader, Simon Blackburn, has accused the company of insensitivity. "The role of a tram or bus driver is naturally sedentary, and there must be better ways of managing issues such as this," he said. "It is not for your boss to tell anyone that they have to lose weight."

And John Boughton from Unite union said he was campaigning for the immediate reinstatement of the two men. "I hope we can all sit round the table and talk about this sensibly," he said.

Blackpool employs around 400 transportation workers and the local economy relies heavily on public bus and tram services, particularly during its peak season which runs from early September to early November.

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