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Bus group sale job fears

PUBLISHED: 12:39 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 18:02 25 August 2010

BUS drivers and union bosses have told of a huge fear for their future after a bus company was put up for sale by its Australian owners.

BUS drivers and union bosses have told of a 'huge fear' for their future after a bus company was put up for sale by its Australian owners.

The East London Bus Group (ELBG), parent company of Selkent, which runs bus garages in Plumstead and Catford, confirmed last Wednesday the business had been put up for sale as the wage cost at the firm was 'unsustainable'. Officials from union Unite have backed drivers who fear their jobs won't be secure after a sale.

John Griffiths, Unite regional officer, said: "Our huge fear is for the many thousands of loyal workers at the ELBG and Unite is calling for a swift resolution to end the uncertainty that our members face. Our members carry millions of passengers everyday and keep this city moving.

"Why should they be penalised as a result of this anarchic system, and by an operator that has made a fast buck, that is now bailing out."

Selkent, together with ELBG, employs some 4,500 staff - most

of whom are drivers.

One Bromley depot driver, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said: "There is a lot of concern among the drivers down here, we are very worried.

"A notice was put up last Tuesday saying that ELBG was up for sale as its wages are uncompetitive, but it's no good blaming us."

The anxious driver added: "They haven't mentioned anything about jobs safety, but we have youngsters here in their 30s with mortgages to pay."

More than 2,000 drivers from the bus group took part in a three-day walkout over a proposed pay freeze last November.

ELBG was bought from Stagecoach by a consortium led by Australian investment bank Macquarie in 2006.

Gareth David, Partner from College Hill, which represents ELBG, said: "This decision is as a result of a review by the new chief executive.

"There have been issues and we have acknowledged that wage costs are relatively high. We have now got to the point where these issues have to be addressed.

"It will take some time, maybe two or three months, and nothing is going to come up very quickly.

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