Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
Source: First Union
NZ Bus drivers in Auckland will continue industrial action via rolling strikes from tomorrow morning after the company declined the unions’ offer to meet for bargaining yesterday, FIRST Union said today.
“Unfortunately, we have made very little progress with the company since they suspended drivers en masse last December, and this week’s industrial action reflects the bus drivers’ ongoing frustration that bargaining has stalled again,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing.
The company’s current offer to drivers contains “clawbacks” that would weaken existing terms and conditions and reduce the maximum amount that any future bus driver could earn, making them the second lowest-paying operator in Auckland. Drivers say improvements in wages and conditions, including 14-hour split shifts with unpaid breaks between, are necessary to retain and recruit drivers to meet the city’s growing demand for public transport.
“Drivers have been saying the same thing since day one: they work incredibly hard, with significant duties of care to their passengers, and deserve to earn more than what is effectively minimum wage when unpaid gaps in their schedules are factored in,” said Mr Abbott.
“Auckland Councillors committed to resolving the dispute following the company’s mass suspension of drivers last year, but NZ Bus themselves need to be realistic and truthful about their ability to settle this dispute fairly with their drivers.”
NZ Bus raised over $40m in profit from over $220m in revenue for the March 2017 financial year for its former owner, Infratil. The company was acquired by Australian private equity firm Next Capital in September 2018, with contracts in Auckland under the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) that have an average term of nine years and a total contract value of NZ$1bn.
Mr Abbott believes that after three months of strikes, suspensions and resistance from the company, it’s time their lucrative private Australian owners considered directly intervening in the dispute.
“It’s clear that the company are trying to trim their baseline costs while abdicating their responsibilities to their workforce and profiting for their investors – that’s not how a public service like the bus system should be run,” said Mr Abbott.
“It’s a counterproductive approach because NZ Bus’s reputation is suffering as a result and these drivers want nothing more than to get back on the road feeling a little more valued for the work they do.”