Bus drivers move step closer to strike
Representatives of drivers for the city's three main bus operators threatened to stage co-ordinated industrial action after the latest round of talks with their employers about pay rises ended yesterday without agreement.
Emerging from meetings with their respective employers - Kowloon Motor Bus, New World First Bus, and City Bus - unionists said they would not rule out a united slow-drive protest or a strike if their demand for a 4 per cent rise was not granted in fresh talks tomorrow.
Chanting slogans and holding banners, more than 100 drivers, led by union chiefs and legislator Wong Kwok-hing, marched to the Murray Building in Central to hand a petition to transport minister Sarah Liao Sau-tung after yesterday's meetings.
Mr Wong and the bus drivers want Dr Liao to attend tomorrow's meetings with the employers.
Lam Shun-ping, representing KMB drivers, said: 'We don't rule out the possibility of united strike action.'
Chung Kin-wah, deputy director of the KMB branch of the Motor Transport Workers' General Union, said they may also consider a slow- drive protest.
Bus drivers have accused the companies of delaying discussions on a pay rise.
Having initially sought rises of between 5 per cent and 7.5 per cent, they are now seeking 4 per cent. Citybus and New World First Bus have offered 2.5 per cent; Kowloon Motor Bus had offered 2 per cent, but yesterday raised its offer to 2.2 per cent plus a lump sum of HK$250.
Mr Lam, a bus driver for 25 years, said KMB drivers' overtime allowances had been cut, costing some drivers HK$1,000 a month.
'They force us to drive very quickly so that they can cut our overtime pay. Sometimes we don't even have time to go to the toilet, and we feel so stressed,' said the 54-year-old.