Stagecoach Expresses Frustration at Further Action
Stagecoach Expresses Frustration at Further Threats of Industrial Action in the Auckland Area
Auckland commuter bus company Stagecoach has expressed disappointment following the latest announcement by the Combined Unions that they intend to strike on Monday next week.
“We have now made four offers or proposals to the Combined Unions to reach a settlement and avert industrial action but we just don’t seem to be making any headway. It’s very frustrating,” says Warren Fowler, Operations Director for Stagecoach.
“Our main objective has been to avoid industrial action because of the disruption it causes across the city. Commuting is difficult enough without these types of disruptions, but we have the feeling that the Unions are hell bent on some sort of action,” says Mr. Fowler.
The latest Stagecoach offer to be rejected by the Union involves 7.6% in the first year - well ahead of the 5% being called for by the country’s largest union, the EPMU, and 14.8% over three years. This increase will push wages for our top drivers into the top tax bracket – over $60,000 per annum.
“However, the Unions have demanded a massive 18.3% increase on base rates which, with their other demands, would increase wages by more than 20% within two years. This type of increase would impact on bus fares at a time when we are trying to minimise increases to boost public transport usage.
“Overall, our pay rates are the best in the industry and a settlement at the level the Unions are seeking would drive commuting costs up as other bus companies are forced to match it.
“We will continue to leave the door open for discussion. We are doing this in a spirit of goodwill and in the search for a solution. Although, we are ready to talk, the public should be reassured that we are not going to be leveraged beyond reasonable levels.
“We also reject suggestions that Stagecoach is making unreasonable profits and that the company can afford to pay. Stagecoach has invested over $80 million in new buses in the Auckland area over the last 6 years to build confidence in public transport. We pay $50 million in wages each year in Auckland. The company has never paid a dividend to its overseas parent company in the whole time it has operated here. Profits are ploughed back into the business,” says Mr. Fowler.
If the strike goes ahead on Monday 150,000 journeys will be affected. It will involve the cancellation of all Link bus and Stagecoach services, including school buses, on that day.
The public are encouraged to plan their journey’s by using the Stagecoach website, www.stagecoach.co.nz, or by calling Rideline on 366 6400.