7.5pc pay rise sought for bus drivers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 March, 2010, 12:00am

A new round of pay negotiations between bus operators and drivers began yesterday as the biggest union representing staff of five companies proposed an increase of 5 to 7.5 per cent.

The move by the Motor Transport Workers General Union signalled the opening of an annual skirmish that starts in February and normally reaches its climax in the summer. The negotiations have often sparked threats of industrial action.

Last year the bidding also opened at 5 to 7 per cent but the unions in the end accepted pay rises of 1.5 to 1.6 per cent offered by Kowloon Motor Bus, sister company Long Win, New World First Bus and sister company Citybus together with one-off bonuses ranging from HK$250 to HK$1,000.

But the deputy director of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, Chung Kin-wah, is optimistic that employers will be more generous this year.

'The companies raised fares, which means they must be earning a better profit, to which all staff contributed their efforts,' said Chung, whose union is affiliated to the Federation of Trade Unions.

The four companies, together with New Lantao Bus, imposed fare rises of 2 to 7.24 per cent in mid-2008. Bus drivers and technicians of New Lantao Bus, which last year established a branch of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, joined the talks for the first time this year.

New Lantao Bus has about 300 drivers, compared with about 8,000 at Kowloon Motor Bus and Long Win, and 3,800 at New World First Bus and Citybus.

The rival Confederation of Trade Unions, which represents some drivers in New World First Bus and Citybus, is still discussing the size of the increase it will seek.

It says it expects to make a decision by the end of this week.