Bus Strike: Unions Refuse Recommended Settlement
Unions Refuse Recommended Settlement of Independent Facilitator
Despite Stagecoach making the Combined Auckland Stagecoach Unions an offer consistent with the recommendations of the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) – an independent, Government-appointed facilitator – the Unions are still proceeding with industrial action from this Thursday, a six-day strike.
“We are at the point where we feel there is little more we can do”, says Warren Fowler, Operations Director for Stagecoach.
“We put up a generous offer in the first place, an offer well in excess of the 5% being called for by the country’s largest union, the EPMU. When we couldn’t get a settlement we called in an independent Government appointed mediator. Unfortunately the unions pulled out of the mediation and refused to return. We then called in the Employment Relations Authority and last week underwent facilitation. The facilitator made a recommendation. We have accepted it. The Union has not. It is incredibly frustrating.”
“What’s more, one of the combined unions is the EPMU, and our offer at 7.6% is well ahead of the EPMU’s 5% benchmark for industry.
“The Employment Relations Authority requested detailed information about the company’s operations and finances and following several days of facilitation with the Union and Company representatives came to a deliberation which was announced over the weekend.” says Mr. Fowler.
“But, we have now heard that one of the combined unions, Akarana, have voted and reconfirmed their strike on Thursday – so it looks like we are back to square one.
“On top of that, the other unions have basically gone to ground and are refusing to return to the table. This is very frustrating because the convenience of the public is not something to be bargained with in a cavalier fashion. Every time there is a strike there is also a loss of confidence in the reliability of public transport and we have been trying to avoid this by seeking an early resolution to the dispute.
“The ERA is the official body of Government designed to help resolve these differences. We have made an offer in line with their recommendation. What more can we do except ask for the forbearance of the Auckland public while we try to work through whatever strategy the drivers’ unions are playing to and try and get a resolution,” says Mr. Fowler.