(LONDON) – Teamster school bus drivers and representatives from the United States and Canada called on National Express Group PLC (NEX: LN), a large multinational corporation, to honor and respect the rights of its North American workers at the company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held today in London.
The company’s worker rights record at its North American subsidiaries is under renewed fire at this year’s meeting. A number of key stakeholders are calling on the National Express Board of Directors to improve the global oversight of the company’s human resource policies and practices.
Unite the Union’s OSSF and UASPS funds; the International Brotherhood of Teamsters General Fund; and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) are recommending National Express shareholders vote NO to Resolution 1 on the Director’s Annual Reports and Accounts. PIRC, a leading U.K.-based proxy voting advisor is also recommending to its clients a vote against Resolution 1.
The action is being taken to send a strong signal for the need for improved Board oversight and reporting to shareholders of the company’s global human resource policies and practices.
The Teamster delegation traveled to the United Kingdom over serious concerns about the negative workers’ rights and labor relations record at the company’s North American subsidiaries, Durham School Services in the U.S. (“Durham”) and Stock Transportation in Canada. They were joined by colleagues from Unite the Union, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association.
“We are calling on National Express to act as a more responsible global company. It’s high time all of its North American workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa.
“I believe Durham shows disrespect and disregard for the drivers and monitors. Our job is to safely transport children to school, but we face poor conditions with some of the school buses we operate. I feel like my concerns are not listened to at all, which is why I came here today, to be heard,” said Latrisha Pringle, a 25-year school bus driver who works for Durham in Charleston, South Carolina, U.S.A., and is a member of Teamsters Local 509 in West Columbia, S.C.
“It’s important that people realize that the problems we face in my bus yard in Navarre, Florida, are not just isolated incidences. I believe there is a pattern to the way Durham is treating people. We are here today because National Express’s subsidiaries cannot continue to behave this way in North America,” said Diane Bence, a Durham driver and member of Teamsters Local 991 in Mobile, Alabama, U.S.A. “In Florida, we voted overwhelmingly to form our union in February, and even though Durham said it would honor the election result, it has not done so and has appealed the results from the National Labor Relations Board secret ballot election.”
Bobby Morton, Unite the Union’s National Officer for Passenger Transport, recently visited Durham school bus yards in Charleston, S.C., and Santa Rosa County, Fla., as part of an international delegation of trade unionists, and met with the drivers and monitors.
“I am haunted by the condition of some of the school buses I witnessed, and what so many workers are going through at Durham in the United States. I believe the safety and working conditions at National Express’s U.S. subsidiary are appalling and cannot be allowed to continue,” Morton said. “I feel a sense of responsibility to inform the Board so we can act to prevent a possible tragedy.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees U.S. labor law, issued 57 informal complaints since 2001 against Durham. These complaints were denied by Durham but resulted in settlements.
The complaints came as a result of allegations by Durham workers, including disparate treatment, discipline and discharge of employees engaged in union organizing; surveilling workers engaged in union activity; and threatening workers with reduction in benefits, working conditions and the loss of employment for supporting unionization.
The Teamsters Drive Up Standards campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry began in 2006. Since then, more than 35,000 North American school bus and transit workers have become Teamsters.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout 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.