Waikato bus drivers win living wage after ordeal with Go Bus
FIRST Union members who work at Go Bus Ltd in Waikato are finally celebrating a living wage making it into their pay packets after enduring two years of frustrating negotiations with an employer who did everything possible to keep workers underpaid, FIRST Union said today.
“The living wage of $21.15 per hour has been a big jump from what most of these drivers started on a couple of years ago, which was usually minimum wage,” said FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Manufacturing and Logistics, Jared Abbott.
“The employer, Go Bus Ltd, has tried every trick in the book to avoid increasing wages, including locking workers out for a week close to Christmas last year and working with a ‘yellow’ union internally to undermine rates and disempower our members,” said FIRST Union Secretary, Jared Abbott.
“Their sustained attempts to derail bargaining and their general anti-worker approach was a real hurdle for the drivers, who just wanted a living wage and some security of employment.”
“Through thick and thin, our members withstood all of this and won, and we’re proud of that.”
FIRST Union bus drivers are grateful to the Waikato Regional Council and Hamilton City Council for their positive interventions in trying to get the living wage for drivers; particularly Councillor Dave Macpherson, who was an important liaison between councils and unions during the process.
“Waikato Regional Council has been an exemplar of how we want to work with councils to ensure that drivers get a fair deal and passengers get a great service,” said Mr Abbott.
“We will be approaching other councils to achieve the same alongside the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA).”
“This settlement shows the value of getting together with your workmates and fighting until you win,” said FIRST Union member and bus driver, William Yeoman.
“Our members are delighted that we’ve achieved this for urban drivers in Waikato, but our goal is for all drivers to achieve living wages in New Zealand – including school bus drivers – so there is more work to be done, even though today we are celebrating.”
“We have a personal commitment from the Minister of Transport to work to achieve a living wage for all urban drivers in New Zealand and we’re excited to make that happen in the near future,” added Mr Abbott.
“The collective actions of these Waikato bus drivers in conjunction with FIRST Union’s Bus Fair campaign were the genesis of that commitment, and they will not be backing down.”