FIRST Union Go Bus drivers in South Auckland say this morning’s picket action turned into something much more serious as two senior Go Bus managers manned buses and attempted to forcefully drive through the peaceful picket line, putting striking union members at a significant risk of physical harm, FIRST Union said today.
"This morning’s dangerous bullying behaviour from senior Go Bus managers show that all they care about is their bottom line - not the people driving their buses for years, not the public, just their company’s profit," said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Operations, Logistics and Manufacturing.
28 FIRST Union members at Go Bus’s airport depot and 12 members at East Tamaki had given notice of a strike for early this Monday morning with the intention of withdrawing their labour for two hours as arduous talks continue between the employer and the union over fair wage bargaining; a dispute that has continued since bargaining was initiated in May 2019, with the company unwilling to enter negotiations with drivers until two weeks ago. Bargaining is set to begin again on Friday, but members are now feeling angry and distrustful given today’s disproportionate response from the employer.
"Our members have a lawful right to strike, especially when they’ve been met with so much hostility from Go Bus managers and been dismissed time and time again for asking for reasonable wages that are commensurate with the long and stressful hours they work while looking after passengers and keeping the buses running on time," said Mr Abbott.
"This morning’s action was part of an ongoing battle to increase pay and conditions for all bus drivers around New Zealand - they’re a workforce that’s historically undervalued and overworked, and they need their employer to know that these jobs are unsustainable without proper investment from the companies who hire them."
"Instead, their managers attempted to drive over them in their own buses."
FIRST Union members allege that the two senior Go Bus managers who manned buses and attempted to drive through the picket line were Stephen McKeefry (Regional Manager at Go Bus) and Jakir Hussain (Operations Manager, Airport Depot). A similar situation was recorded in November last year, when Police were notified that striking workers at Go Bus in Hamilton were threatened and injured by buses attempting to break and intimidate the peaceful picket line during a similar lockout of FIRST Union drivers over pay and conditions.