NZ drivers' strike plan

Auckland bus drivers will step up industrial action, stopping work each Monday for nine weeks from September 17

NZ drivers' strike plan
NZ drivers’ strike plan

September 4, 2012

An inability to convince their employers to properly value their work has prompted Auckland bus drivers to step up their industrial action, according to New Zealand’s Tramways Union.

Mediation has just concluded without agreement between unions representing 900 Auckland bus drivers, and their employer, Infratil-owned NZ Bus.

From September 17, bus drivers will take strike action every Monday for nine weeks, in an effort to convince NZ Bus to take their wage claim seriously.

At issue was the drivers’ claim for a pay rate of $20 per hour to commence sooner than the company was prepared to offer, Tramways Union president Gary Froggatt says.

"Drivers have submitted during bargaining that this should be in place by July next year, whereas the company wants to delay it until April 2014," says Froggatt.

"Bus drivers are routinely away from home for 14 hour days to earn an 8 hour wage, due to their split shifts for peak services.

"It is not at all easy to support themselves and their families in Auckland on the wages that NZ Bus pay. This is a very profitable company, who can comfortably afford a better deal for Auckland’s bus drivers.

NZ Bus’ owner Infratil posted a 6 per cent profit increase last month. Company directors have recently been voted a 3.7 percent increase.

"Yet the workers who carry the travelling public day to day are being asked to wait until 2014 to reach a decent wage of $20 an hour," argues Froggatt.

He says at issue were pay rates covering shifts when drivers are required to come into work on their rostered day off.

"NZ Bus pays them time and a quarter, whereas others in the company are paid time and a half. NZ Bus was out of step with other bus companies," Froggatt says.

According to Froggatt NZ’s FIRST Union has been able to conclude bargaining with other major Auckland bus companies within a much shorter time period and for higher rates.

He says this shows bargaining can be reached without the need for industrial action if the company was willing to pay a decent wage.

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