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GO Bus Says Latest Strike Shows Contempt

GO Bus Says Latest Strike Shows Contempt towards the Bargaining Process

Go Bus says that it is astonished and disappointed the First Union has decided to strike in the Hamilton and King Country regions on the same day it is scheduled to participate in facilitated bargaining with the Employment Relations Authority.

Nigel Piper, Chief Operating Officer of Go Bus says First Union’s industrial action shows the contempt in which it holds any constructive effort to resolve the Collective Agreement, as well as a high level of disrespect for affected bus users.

The short notice strike, which will run from 5.30am to 9.30am Wednesday 26 September, is aimed at disrupting passengers using Hamilton’s urban bus routes and school buses in Te Awamutu and Otorohanga.

Mr Piper says while the company will aim to run a Saturday timetable for Hamilton services, its school buses in Te Awamutu and Otorohanga will not be affected, as the company’s managers will once again help non-union staff maintain these services.

“It is hard for us to find any signs of the union’s desire to enter into constructive bargaining when it calls a strike for the same day we are due to engage in a special process with the Employment Relations Authority.” Mr Piper says.

All regional services – 20 Cambridge, 21 Northern Connector, 22 Morrinsville/Paeroa, 23 Raglan and 24 Te Awamutu – will run as normal. The Orbiter will also run as normal.

The 29 Hamilton Gardens service will not operate.

All other Hamilton bus services will operate on limited timetables with reduced frequency. The timetable will be released later today. For details of the revised timetables, visit the Busit website, www.busit.co.nz, or Facebook page www.facebook.com/BUSITWaikato/, or call 0800 205 305

As Go Bus managers will either be driving or involved in the ERA negotiations tomorrow, and to respect those negotiations, we have no further comments to make and will not be available for any interviews.

Background to the bargaining process and Go Bus’s frustration

For the past 18 months Go Bus has been attempting to negotiate a Collective Agreement with First Union for its driver members in the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and King Country areas where Go Bus provides urban and school bus services.

Regardless of the offers made by Go Bus, The Union has had a simple bottom line demand: the Living Wage. This would represent an increase of up to 16.2% on top of the 6.7% already paid earlier this year.

Go Bus has made it clear that it is not opposed in any way to the advocacy for a Living Wage for regional bus drivers, but this is different from paying competitive rates in all areas it operates, as evidenced by its ability to attract and retain good staff.

The company maintains that if a contracting authority elected to stipulate a specific wage rate or Living Wage, provided it was applied to all operators with contracts and the cost to move to a higher rate was fully recoverable, it would implement it.

However, implementing a Living Wage without recovering the costs from the authority would be unsustainable for Go Bus.

Go Bus has a proud track record of increasing wages beyond the level of inflation, the most recent being a 6.7% increase for Hamilton drivers just last December.

The latest offer that the union has rejected would have provided further increases for some staff of up to 5.6%.

Go Bus has no problems in attracting and retaining good, conscientious staff in the Waikato region.

It also has a good record of successful negotiation with the various other unions that collectively represent a greater proportion of it people than First Union.

-ends-


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