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UK pension funds alarm over National Express Group’s U...

UK pension funds alarm over National Express Group’s US ‘human rights’ record

07 May 2014

Shareholders in National Express Group PLC are being asked to back a resolution that would fundamentally improve the company’s employment policies and practices, at its AGM in Birmingham on 14 May.

Shareholders are being asked to back a group of UK local authority pension funds, the Teamsters and more than 100 individual investors who sponsored the resolution and are calling on the board to finally address “systemic and longstanding” issues in the way it treats its staff in North America.

The three local authority pension funds are the Greater Manchester pension fund, which holds a 2.5 per cent stake in the National Express Group, Islington and Nottinghamshire County Council.

They are co-sponsoring a resolution drawn up by the US-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters that calls for changes to the UK-listed firm’s policies. The group employs more than 35,000 staff worldwide.

It calls for the company’s board to “expand the role and responsibilities of its safety and environment committee” and adopt a “meaningful and enforceable” human rights policy.

The AGM is being held at Hall 5, International Convention Centre, Broad Street, Birmingham B1 2EA at 14.00 on Wednesday 14 May.

The Teamsters have been campaigning for the past five years over serious concerns surrounding the negative human rights and labour relations record of National Express Group’s US private school bus transportation subsidiary, Durham School Services.

They believe the company’s poor record of respecting labour rights and safety is risking the group's ability to retain and attract service contracts. Teamsters’ general president Jim Hoffa said: “We are deeply troubled by National Express’s workplace practices and human rights record in North America. It is long overdue for the National Express board of directors to fundamentally change, on both a policy and practical level, how it treats its workers — the company’s most important asset.”

Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said: “As the UK’s largest transport workers union, we welcome the intervention of the local authority pension funds in raising the entrenched anti-employee attitudes in the US.

“We are concerned that if Durham School Services is allowed to get away with these abuses, these abhorrent practices will seep across the Atlantic into National Express’ UK operations, which we would strongly resist on behalf of the employees and the travelling public.”

In 2012, a report entitled  ‘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.

The company has been the recipient of many US National Labor Relations Board complaints and charges that raised concerns about unlawful terminations, surveillance, retribution and disparate treatment of its employees who supported unions.

ENDS

For further information please call Unite’s head of media Alex Flynn on 07967 665869 and/or Kara Deniz from the Teamsters’ communications team on +1 202 497-6610.

Notes to editors:
•    Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents more than 1.4 million hard working 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 here.

Twitter: @unitetheunion facebook: unitetheunion1

•    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.