CHINA Motor Bus mechanics will not be left without jobs if they are sacked, a senior transport official says. Speaking in a phone-in, Deputy Commissioner for Transport Dorothy Chan Yuen Tak-fai said yesterday that a Citybus depot under construction in Shau Kei Wan could absorb some of the skilled mechanics. The CMB staff union said New World First Bus Services executives had promised to re-hire workers laid off before the new company took over 88 bus routes on Hong Kong island in September. The union, representing 2,300 staff, believed CMB was planning to sack about 300 mechanics, drivers and clerks. Mrs Chan warned CMB would have to justify any layoffs which might compromise services between now and September. 'Should [CMB] fire them, the company has to explain why the staff could be sacked at this stage when the company still needs maintenance service for the 800-strong fleet,' she said. Mrs Chan said the two companies were expected to finalise a handover plan in the next two months. She expressed hope that no disturbance would be caused to students at the start of the academic year in September. 'Basically it would still be those drivers [of the CMB] driving their own routes and most of the fleet would be redeployed to the new company. I do not expect great difficulties,' she said. The CMB union was yesterday trying to confirm if mass layoffs were planned. Union secretary Tang Wai-cheong said company bosses had been avoiding its representatives but he expected a meeting might be possible this week. He said staff had been reassured by First Bus' promise to re-hire. Democratic Party representatives met First Bus managing director Adolf Hsu Hsung yesterday to seek assurances about safety and service quality. The party suggested the new company retain the current fares but allow over-60s discounts rather than restricting them to those over 65. Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming said the suggestions followed a survey of 444 bus passengers, in which 66 per cent said fares should not rise. Mr Hsu said the post of a safety supervisor and a comprehensive safety system would be created. CMB could not be reached for comment yesterday.