British Parliament in Memphis to hear school bus concerns

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Durham School Services questioned British Parliament members, who are visiting Memphis to look into bus complaints.

National Express, the parent company of Durham School Services, is based out of the United Kingdom.

Parliament members came across the pond Wednesday to hold a forum and listen to your concerns on safety, working conditions, and equipment problems.

The meeting was held at the First Congregational Church in the Cooper-Young area.

They'll take the concerns to shareholders in the U.K., in the hopes they make some changes.

This year, Durham School Services got off to a bumpy start with dozens of crashes, a driver charged with bringing pot on a bus, and another driver arrested for a felony warrant out of Texas.

That's why Parliament member Jim Sheridan said he came to Memphis.

"I find that incredible and extremely difficult to understand why the safety in the U.S. is not held to the same priority as it is in the U.K.," he said.

Recently, Durham executives promised changes like third-party background checks and more drug and alcohol screenings.

Shelby County bus driver Wanda Alberson said things are getting better, but said they need better training.

"I think we are pretty safe in operating our school buses every day. It looks like there are few bad ones picked out the bunch," Alberson said.

Parliament members also talked about making the union here stronger and expanding it. They said it will hold Durham more accountable.

Keep in mind, both members are affiliated with a political party that supports unions.

"A lot of them are afraid to come forward in case of intimidation, in case of termination or in case of hours cut," British Parliament member Ian Lavery said.

"We are really concerned that Durham is not taking the issue of child safety as a priority," Sheridan added.

Durham responded to the meeting with the following statement:

This event has little, if anything, to do with our operations in and around Shelby County, rather it is an attempt by the national Teamster leadership to exert pressure on our company.  Our relationship with our dedicated drivers is outstanding. The attendance of the members of the British Parliament, including Jim Sheridan, who in addition to his parliamentary duties serves as chair of Unite the Union's parliamentary group, and Ian Lavery, former president of National Union of Mineworkers, is not surprising given their roles. Their presence has more to do with their close links with the Teamsters and little, if anything, to do with our service and community partnership in Shelby County. -Carina Noble with Durham Services

The British Parliament also visited Charleston, South Carolina, about ongoing issues with Durham there.

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