Auckland Go Bus drivers to strike tomorrow over dangerous work conditions
Following a series of strikes in Auckland and the Waikato region with a handful of companies, 60 Go Bus drivers in Auckland will be the latest to take industrial action. The action will commence early Tuesday morning and commuters in South Auckland are being advised to find alternative transport as Go Bus is a large transport provider in the area.
This is in response to failed negotiations with the company over work conditions and a series of concerning figures obtained through Official Information Act requests by FIRST Union. The first of which involves the revelation the company was making its staff drive over the 5 ½ hour drive time limit with no breaks resulting in an audit of Go Bus which FIRST Union has requested be stretched to all companies presently operating in Auckland. The second involves accident rates per company comparative to the number of buses it has on Auckland roads. These figures highlight issues with Go Bus and another bus company operating in Auckland and will be revealed in due course. These revelations are amongst a backdrop of pressures on drivers from a range of companies to drive for long hours with low pay.
The complaints from our members include;
• Being pushed to work over the maximum drive time of 5 ½ hours. We have already published evidence from a separate OIA showing Go Bus regularly breaking this rule.
• Rostering. Many drivers are working broken or split shifts. Splits shifts can be up to 14 hours but drivers are only paid for eight hours due to the way bus runs are structured. Breaks are also an issue with some drivers being expected to work 5 ½ hours without a break, and these drivers do not receive paid tea breaks – this is the only industry in New Zealand that allows for such unsafe practices that can lead to dreadful outcomes. Further, this amount of time away from home negatively affects families and the communities they’re situated within.
• Companies are continuing to clamp down on pay rates, overtime, and redundancy packages which decreases the retention rate of skilled drivers.
FIRST Union is calling for a bus driver industry standard of pay and work conditions such as lifestyle rostering to decrease the pressure on drivers to drive for such long periods of time. The need for managing overtime hours must also be included in such a standard to manage fatigue.
FIRST Union Organiser Graham McKean says the main issue with Go Bus is worker conditions and issues around overtime.
“Drivers are expected to drive for too long with very limited breaks, it the only industry like it in New Zealand. It’s like driving from Auckland to Napier without a single stop, day in day out.”
Mr McKean says bus drivers have the right to have a life outside of work, and shouldn’t be tired while driving because of work demands.
“Bus companies need to realise they’re working with real human beings, not machines, although they’re driving what is effectively large machinery with 50-60-odd lives on board.”
He says the South Auckland community in particular has been very supportive of the strike action.
“Many bus drivers working in Auckland live in the southern suburbs so they’re the communities who’re being disadvantaged the most. It takes a lot of effort to go on strike, they’re angry and so too are their communities, they want their drivers to be treated humanely.”