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Bus lockout heavy handed; low wages disgraceful

25 September 2008

Bus lockout heavy handed; low wages disgraceful

"The lockout of 300 Wellington bus drivers is a heavy handed over-reaction to legitimate claims by Wellington bus drivers for a decent wage increase," Green Party MP Sue Kedgley says.

"I am astonished that Go Wellington would take such a hard-line, bullying approach- causing congestion and chaos on Wellington streets - over a very reasonable claim by bus drivers for a tiny increase in their rock bottom wages," Ms Kedgley says.

"Wellington bus drivers earn only slightly more than the minimum wage - $12.72 an hour - for a job with considerable responsibility. Bus drivers have to navigate our narrow congested streets, often with crowded buses, and it's absurd they are some of the lowest paid professionals in New Zealand," Ms Kedgley says.

"In fact they are earning less than they were a few years ago despite the cost of living going up. This pay level is unacceptable - no one should be forced to live on so little," Ms Kedgley says. "Wellington's bus drivers are valued members of our community and deserve decent wages to support themselves and their families. I am shocked by the company's decision to make their financial situation even worse by locking them out..

"The drivers' low wages are symptomatic of the general underinvestment in our public transport system. Buses are overcrowded at peak hours, there are not enough new trolley buses to replace the older ones and we need to do more to financially incentivise people to use buses to reduce congestion on our roads and carbon emissions.

"Wellingtonians want a better bus system but the price should not be low paid jobs. I call on GO Wellington to end their lockout and negotiate a fair pay settlement for the drivers," Ms Kedgley says.

Green Party Industrial Relations Spokesperson Sue Bradford says: "The Green Party is calling for an immediate increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Wellington bus drivers on $12.72 an hour are earning significantly less than what we believe is the lowest amount someone should earn."

ENDS

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