(WASHINGTON) – A report released today by two Members of United Kingdom’s Parliament, Ian Lavery and Jim Sheridan, reveals serious labor rights violations at National Express Group PLC (LON: NEX) operations in the United States. The report’s recommendations support a Teamster-sponsored shareholder resolution that will be voted on at the company’s annual general meeting of shareholders on May 6 in London.
The proposal is a shareholder resolution calling for an independent review of employment practices in National Express’s U.S. school bus business. National Express is the parent company to Durham School Services, the second-largest school bus transportation provider in the United States. The resolution is sponsored by holders of approximately two percent of the company’s stock, including United Kingdom pension fund members of the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.
The report, “Broken Commitments, Vulnerable Workers,” reveals the Parliamentarians’ serious concerns over systemic anti-union bias at National Express’s U.S. subsidiary and calls for intervention by the company’s Board of Directors to resolve these issues.
The report details their concerns with safety and maintenance, as well as retaliation against workers exercising their federally-protected right to form a union. The report highlights poor worker treatment and working conditions, including wage theft, at the company’s U.S. school bus yards.
Lavery and Sheridan traveled to the United States in February after hearing reports from Durham school bus workers, parents and community leaders about poor working conditions and anti-union bias at Durham operations in the U.S. The Members of Parliament traveled to Charleston, S.C. and Memphis, Tenn., to meet with dozens of school bus drivers and monitors and attend community meetings where concerns were raised about the company’s operations.
Their findings led to more than 30 of their colleagues in Parliament putting forth an Early Day Motion condemning the anti-trade union activities of National Express, and stating their belief that the company has “largely ignored the safety concerns raised by employees and parents alike when transporting children to and from school.”
“If anyone can tell me why hardworking people in the United States should be treated different from hardworking people in the U.K. at the same company, I’ll listen. All school bus workers should be treated with respect and be provided with safe and roadworthy buses appropriate for transporting children,” Lavery said.
The Members spoke with Durham school bus workers from South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Illinois and New Mexico about their experiences working for the company, and included their findings in the report.
“We find depressing the stories we are hearing from U.S. workers about the way a subsidiary of a renowned U.K.-based company treats its workers. A child in the United States of America is just as important as a child in the U.K. What we’ve heard from the drivers leaves a lot to be desired and the company needs to sit down with the unions because it is every worker’s fundamental right,” Sheridan said.
The report concludes there is need for intervention from the National Express Board of Directors to take a collaborative approach with unions in North America. This includes in places like Santa Rosa County, Fla., where Durham drivers and monitors voted overwhelmingly in February 2013 in favor of representation by Teamsters Local 991 in nearby Mobile, Ala. Two years later, the company continues in its refusal to recognize the union. The National Labor Relations Board has certified the workers’ election as valid.
The Teamsters’ Drive Up Standards campaign is a global campaign to improve safety, service and work standards in the private school bus and transit industry. Since the campaign began in 2006, more than 38,630 North American school bus and transit workers have become Teamsters.
For more information on Drive Up Standards, go to www.driveupstandards.org.
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.