Unions express concerns about human rights

by - 27th February 2012, 8.00 GMT

A new report released today by Unite and the North American-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) highlights serious flaws in the National Express Group’s human rights policy.

The report, National Express Group’s Diminution of Labor Rights in the U.S, starkly concludes the company’s policy enables it to continue anti-union behaviour rather than appropriately protecting the human rights of its workers.

The report is written by respected academic Professor John Logan, who is the Director of Labor and Employment Studies at San Francisco State University College of Business. It follows the introduction of a purported global ‘Workplace Rights Policy’ by National Express Group at its annual shareholder meeting in May 2011.

The new policy was seemingly prompted by an upsurge in interest among U.S. based workers to join a union and was implemented in a bid to pre-empt criticism of the Group’s questionable labour relations record in the U.S.

Over the course of a decade serious concerns have been raised over the negative human rights and labour relations record of National Express Group’s U.S. private school bus transportation subsidiary, Durham School Services.

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

Commenting, Teamster International Vice President, Rick Middleton, said: “This report underlines what we’ve known for years, that National Express Group’s subsidiary takes advantage of weak labour laws in the United States to enable it to be in a position to exploit and silence its U.S. employees.

“National Express Group’s workplace rights policy is a sham that needs to be corrected immediately. In the majority of union election campaigns there have been clear concerns that their U.S. subsidiary, Durham Schools Service, has not fully respected workers’ human rights.”

Unite director of executive policy Steve Turner said: “For many years Unite and the Teamsters have worked together with bus workers throughout the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom to Drive Up Standards in multinational bus companies. A key aim has been to protect working families, passengers – particularly children – and communities who rely on critical transportation services.

“It is not helpful that a British-based company fails to adopt internationally accepted human rights conventions that would appropriately protect workers’ rights and creates stumbling blocks for U.S. employees who want to join or form a union.

“Instead National Express should follow the example of some of its leading competitors and introduce an effective, robust policy with independent oversight which is transparent and accountable to all the company’s stakeholders.”