A pay row between KMB and its drivers was almost at an end as union leaders said they were prepared to accept an increment of 1.5 per cent, subject to the agreement of their members. But talks between New World First Bus, its wholly owned subsidiary Citybus and their 3,800 drivers fell through for the seventh time yesterday after unions failed to settle despite a discrepancy of only 0.3 per cent. The director of the Citybus division under the Motor Transport Workers General Union, Tang Wai-cheong, admitted the discrepancy amounted to just HK$20 per month, but he said it was unfair to expect drivers to give in. 'In a bad economy, people take buses to work instead of taxis, and that is when our employers' business gets better, plus oil prices have dwindled so much since last year, why should they linger on 0.3 per cent?' The two companies offered a 1.6 per cent pay rise, while union members insisted on 1.9 per cent. But the union's director at KMB, Lam Shun-ping, said unions there would accept the deal offered. The unions said they would not consider staging industrial action or work-to-rule protests at this point. Some drivers will, however, take to the streets tomorrow to express their dismay. The three bus companies told drivers that, despite lower fuel prices, the businesses needed to remain prudent as their future was uncertain given the expansion of the rail network.