Britain’s major transport unions are urging National Express Group shareholders to send a strong message of protest to senior management at today’s (Thursday 9 May) AGM over it labour relations record in North America.
The unions - RMT, TSSA, Unite, ASLEF and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) – will be asking the shareholders, gathering in London at 2.00pm, to vote against the directors’ annual report and accounts to show their displeasure at the poor treatment of employees working for its North American private school bus transportation subsidiary, Durham School Services.
The unions, which represent staff working for National Express in the UK, said such a shareholder vote would “signal the critical need for improved oversight and reporting of global human resources strategies”.
In a letter to shareholders, the unions said: “In Britain, National Express has a long record of recognising a number of trade unions” and adheres to the 2002 National Express Corporate Responsibility Report which aims “to provide attractive employment through a package of remuneration and benefits which are appropriate to the market in which we operate.”
The letter continues: “However, this appears to fly in the face of the company’s industrial relations in North America.
“Over the past few years we have learned from National Express Group workers employed by the company’s North American school bus subsidiaries and their union representatives of what we believe is a corporate approach to deny workers their rights to freedom of association and engage in collective bargaining for their working conditions.
“In school bus yard after school bus yard the workers’ reports of opposition from management when attempting to form a union are all too similar. In 57 instances the company had to reach a settlement with the United States labour authority, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) because of its behaviour.
“The company has even been found by a judge to have sacked a worker in California to intimidate workers from voting for union representation.
“We believe National Express Group’s board of directors needs to strengthen its oversight and reporting of employment issues. The North American school bus operations are the company’s fastest growing and most profitable business segment along with its UK rail business.
“We are calling on National Express to expand the remit of its existing safety and environment committee to include responsibility for its strategy and oversight of management of staff, and to greatly enhance disclosure to shareholders of its human capital policies, practices and compliance to international covenants.
“Transparency and good reporting of human capital practices can reveal crucial financial, reputational, political and other risks to the company’s long-term success.
“As investors you have the opportunity to set the board of directors on a proactive path through your vote against resolution 1.”
The AGM is being held at Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG at 2.00pm today (Thursday, 9 May).
New research by the Teamsters union of 165 drivers and monitors employed by Durham School Services in South Carolina last summer showed that buses had frequent breakdowns when students were on board, many buses were overcrowded and a catalogue of mechanical malfunctions were reported, such as broken heaters and speedometers.
Research in Santa Rosa County in Florida also revealed similar problems.
Last year, the report, National Express Group’s Diminution of Labor Rights in the U.S was commissioned by Britain’s largest union, Unite and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
For further information please call Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693 940 and/or Kara Deniz from the Teamsters’ communications team on +1 202 624-8142.
Notes to editors:
• Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
• The report, ‘National Express Group’s Diminution of Labor Rights in the U.S,’can be found via this link: http://www.schoolbusworkersunited.org/sites/schoolbusworkersunited.org/files/121311NationalExpressLoganReportFinal.pdf
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.