Union leaders hold little hope of heading off a strike by bus drivers and technicians at New World First Bus over their claim for a pay rise. Representatives of the New World First Bus Company Staff Union and the company are due to meet tomorrow for more talks. The union said yesterday it would not back down from a demand for a 2 per cent rise, while New World First Bus said a 1.6 per cent increase was the best it could offer. Union chairman Chung Chung-fai said members were disappointed that the company refused to consider a rise of more than 1.6 per cent even after nine rounds of talks. 'We are working out details for our industrial action, as we do not have any hope and expectation of this company,' Mr Chung said. The union plans to tell all its members to report for duty to different branches of the company and gather there. 'There will be hundreds of drivers and technicians gathering at the company's Chai Wan and Wong Chuk Hang offices ... the bigger offices, if we go on strike,' he said. But he added that the effect on public transport would be minimal. 'The company has a pool of part-time drivers and there are also other bus companies offering services, so the impact will not be too great.' The company said a contingency plan was in place in case of a strike to minimise the effect on services to the public. A company spokesman said substitute drivers were on hand in case of a strike and the traffic situation would be closely monitored if a stoppage was called. The company hoped the union would accept its wage-rise proposal and make public interest the top priority. A Labour Department spokeswoman called on both sides to take the public interest into consideration and resolve the dispute through negotiation.