Monday, May 05, 2014

National Express - Union busters and Blacklisters?

On 14 May it is the Annual General Meeting of British PLC National Express.

US transport trade union, the Teamsters, are calling for share owners to vote for Resolution 22 which calls for "improved oversight and reporting of human capital policies and practices". 

This relates to an ongoing dispute with the US School bus business owned by National Express called Durham School Services. 

While in the UK National Express has on the whole a positive relationship with British trade unions,  in the US it has allowed local managers to be trade union busters and blacklisters. This has a reputational risk to the brand and value of National Express. Especially when trade union members have been victimised for exposing health and safety concerns. 

In the UK there has been a campaign to "Blacklist the Blacklistersand to boycott companies in the UK who blacklisted workers for their trade union activism. 

I note in the US that National Express has been accused of "disparate treatment, discipline and discharge of employees engaged in union organizing; alleged illegal surveillance of workers engaged in union activity; and allegedly threatening workers with reduction in benefits, working conditions and the loss of employment for supporting unionization".

I think this is also Blacklisting and National Express runs the risk that they will be added to British list to be boycotted by responsible public and local authorities.

Check out this post I did last year on the risk to our pension investments from investing in National Express. Didn't the huge losses we took from investing in BP teach us anything? 

Picture above is of US School bus driver, Diane Bence, explaining to a meeting last month of Pension trustees and journalists, how awful it is to be employed by a bullying, disrespectful employer who takes risks with children's safety. 

On the left was Louis Malizia from the Teamsters who pointed out that if National Express wanted to expand in the US then they will have to compete for contracts in areas which have strong trade union membership. If they are seen as "anti-trade union" then it will make it much harder for them to win contracts from local School boards.  By being so anti-union they are cutting their nose to spite their face.

This meeting was chaired by Cllr Kieran Quinn (middle) who chairs the Greater Manchester Pension Fund and the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum. He pointed out that he had asked National Express to publish their safety data if they have nothing to hide? But they keep ignoring his questions. 

I said at this meeting that this failure indicates a wider governance concern about the Board of National Express. Surely after the BP Gulf disaster investors need to wake up to the risk from investing in such companies?

UPDATE: sign the ShareAction petition here
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