Foyleside launch for ‘Hands Off Free School Transport’ campaign at 11am Wednesday 8th March at Pennyburn Garage
March 7th: Unite the union, representing the overwhelming majority of bus drivers providing school transport services across Northern Ireland, will launch their Derry/Londonderry ‘Hands Off Free School Transport’ campaign tomorrow at 11am [Wednesday 8th March] at the Pennyburn Garage.
Speaking ahead of the launch and on behalf of Unite’s Education Authority bus drivers, Ciaran McCallion said:
“Education bus drivers and Ulsterbus drivers are joining forces to launch Unite’s campaign against charges for school transport set to be introduced in September 2017. The chair of the Education Authority has stated due to swingeing austerity cuts, households will face paying between £50 and £200 a child for school transport. We will not be accepting that.
“This is yet another stealth tax on hard pressed working households. In this area, the Education buses focus on transporting children with disabilities to school – what will happen if their families can’t afford the cost?
“Our drivers are deeply angered by this proposal and we are determined to defend the right of children to go to school.
“We will fight this all the way but we are asking the political parties to clarify their stance on this issue. To put the maximum pressure on them, Unite has set up an online petition and our drivers will be distributing leaflets to the children to pass onto their parents”, Mr McCallion finished.
Joining him will be Alan Doherty, Unite rep for Ulsterbus in the city, who said ahead of the launch:
“Our drivers are very deeply concerned by this proposal. Not only is this another stealth tax on working households but as proposed it will be a flat-tax which is deeply regressive and will fall heaviest on lower income families.
“What’s possibly even more concerning is the likely impact this will have by encouraging parents to use private transport to avoid the charge. This will mean more congestion on our roads, it will mean more pollution from noxious exhaust fumes and it will directly undermine the long-term viability of rural and borderline profitable routes.
“We are calling for the public to back our campaign, sign the petition and like our facebook page. Every driver is committed to defeating this attack on free school transport. We stand ready to take action but we hope the politicians will see sense, ditch this proposal and get their ‘Hands Off Free School Transport’”, Mr Doherty ended.
It’s an absolute disgrace to expect parents with special needs children to have to find the money for school transport on top of everything else they have to deal with, let’s hope it doesn’t come to this.