Free bus fares in South Auckland tomorrow as Go Bus drivers protest low wages
South Aucklanders from Mangere to East Tamaki will be riding their Go Bus services to work for free tomorrow morning, as FIRST Union bus drivers opt out of collecting fares for their employer in an industrial action designed to show the wider public why bus drivers are fighting for fairer wages, FIRST Union said today.
“Drivers have decided to not collect fares today in protest because many can’t afford to live in Auckland on these wages in 2019,” said Emir Hodzic, FIRST Union organiser. “But Go Bus haven’t been properly negotiating with them since May and they can’t keep pretending it’s going to sort itself out just because it’s the right thing for the company to do.”
“It’s not an easy job but passengers rely on them to do it perfectly even when they’re stressed and struggling to make ends meet in their personal lives – they just want to be paid fairly and treated with respect.”
Bargaining between over 110 FIRST Union members and Go Bus began in May 2019, but the employer was unprepared to hold a first meeting until the past week. During that meeting, Go Bus cancelled further bargaining with FIRST Union members, and members argue that the employer has been covertly referring drivers to a “yellow union” in order to limit any upward movement on wages.
FIRST Union recently resolved a long-standing stoush with the company in Hamilton, requiring the Waikato Regional Council and Minister of Transport to get involved after the company refused to pass on funds the council had agreed with the union to fund drivers’ wages.
“The Minister of Transport has put a huge investment into public transport, and it is being abused by companies like Go Bus, who are trying to enjoy the benefits while keeping wages low to pad their bottom lines,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Operations, Logistics and Manufacturing.
“Go Bus have been difficult to work with and intentionally obstructive during a very ordinary bargaining period that you would have in any unionised workforce.”
“Wages at Go Bus currently range from minimum wage to around $22.11 per hour, and drivers want to see a significant rise that compensates for increased living costs, poor wage growth and the increasing stress and strain of the job.”