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British and US bus workers unite against National Express

BRITISH and US bus workers have joined forces to tackle rights abuses perpetrated by one of the countries’ largest transport companies.

National Express will have to face both members of British union Unite and the US Teamsters union at its shareholders’ annual meeting in Birmingham today.

“An attack against the Teamsters in America is an attack against Unite,” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey told a press briefing yesterday. 

The unions have submitted a motion at the National Express AGM ordering the company to clean up its act. 

The document — co-signed by three British pension funds — proposes that the company puts in place proper health and safety rights for its workers across the world. 

Mr McCluskey said it was outrageous that a British company that maintains good relations with its workers in Britain would then “behave in such a despicable way” in another country.

National Express and its US subsidiary Durham School Services have been denying its workers the right to associate and refuses to recognise the union.

It has also been reported that Durham bosses have bullied workers and victimised those who tried to organise for better working conditions.

One of Durham’s bus monitors has come to Britain to protest at today’s shareholder meeting. She told the Star how buses were so battered and cold last winter that she had to buy blankets for the children with special needs who she supervises on their way to and from school.

Teamsters general president Jim Hoffa said National Express is waging a “war on workers.”

Those that the union is trying to represent are “basically people that are making seven, eight, nine dollars an hour — people that really need a union,” he said. 

Both Unite and Teamsters are part of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).

The ITF has founded a Charter for Corporate Bad Behaviour which it is now ready to implement if National Express and Durham continue to ignore workers’ rights. Taking legal action to the UN’s International Labour Organisation and direct action are among measures being considered by the unions if National Express bosses refuse to make changes. 

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