At its AGM, National Express's board was quizzed over its perceived hostility to union representation in its American school bus division. The AGM was conducted in a media blackout.
Members of the Teamsters union flew in from the US to complain that local managers told workers "you do not need a union to represent you". One bus driver, Gina Beck, said her normal working day on the group's Durham school bus subsidiary consisted of leaving home at 3.30am and not returning until 6.30pm. "I answered a job advert that promised great pay and benefits – but those promises soon fell short, the benefits were few," she said.
"I decided to join with my co-workers in trying to form a union in order to give us a voice and some dignity at work but met with strong opposition from management," she told the meeting in a prepared statement.
The response of chairman John Devaney and chief executive Dean Finch to her comments cannot be reported, however, because the company took the highly unusual step of barring all media from the annual meeting. Any reporter entering the room was ejected.