FirstGroup scrutinised as Euro expansion beckons

29 January 2007

Transport unions from countries where FirstGroup plans to expand will meet with colleagues who already have experience of the company.

Union representatives from the UK and US will join their counterparts from Ireland, Germany, Sweden and The Netherlands to examine the international rail and bus operator’s record - and plan how to avert the difficulties that have affected FirstGroup passengers and workers. The meeting will be held at the International Transport Federation on Wednesday.

The meeting is expected to draw up a plan of action that includes creating a global network of transport unions whose members are employed by FirstGroup, and reaching out to shareholders, regulators, and politicians. It is expected to be the first in a series of meetings.

‘We’re concerned that FirstGroup doesn’t repeat in the rest of Europe the mistakes it has made in the UK and US,’ said Mac Urata, Secretary of the ITF’s Inland Transport Section.

FirstGroup is a possible bidder for Connexxion, a Dutch state-owned transport operator. It is also considering purchasing Continental Auto in Spain and has bid with a partner, the Danish State rail operator, DSB, on a rail franchise linking Denmark and Sweden. It is also reportedly considering buying Laidlaw, a US firm that provides school and public transit services.

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