Bus drivers accept mediation offer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 June, 2003, 12:00am

New World First Bus drivers have shelved plans to take industrial action over the company's move to scrap their guaranteed bonus, after Labour Department officials promised to mediate in the dispute.

About 30 drivers, accompanied by union leader and legislator Leung Fu-wah, yesterday afternoon met the assistant commissioner of the Labour Department, Jennie Chor Chan Chui-yuk. She pledged to help both sides overcome the dispute and said she would arrange a meeting between company and union officials.

'We will try to solve this issue as soon as possible. I certainly do not want to see another labour dispute of this nature,' she said, referring to last weekend's protests by New Territories taxi drivers.

New World First Bus has proposed scrapping the drivers' guaranteed bonus in favour of one based on staff performance and company profits.

Chu Pun-din, vice-chairman of the Motor Transport Workers General Union and director of the union's New World bus branch, said he expected the meeting to take place within one or two days.

He said plans for industrial action would be put on hold pending the outcome of the meeting as a 'show of sincerity'.

'We will discuss this again if nothing comes out of the meeting. But let's see what happens first,' Mr Chu said.

The drivers warned on Sunday that they were prepared to take industrial action, starting with a 'work-to-rule' protest.

The drivers are unhappy with the proposed changes because they say the company continues to be profitable in the long term and does not need financial help.

Mr Leung said: 'The company said this plan would save them $25 million to help compensate for the downturn in recent months. But they also said they made $150 million last year, so the point is they want to make more profits rather than less. That is unacceptable.'

Employees of New World First Ferry, who have also been asked to accept a change in bonus structure, will discuss the issue today.