FIRST Union Kaumātua Syd Keepa is calling on Ngāi Tahu and Tainui, co-owners of Go Bus, to intervene in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions that saw bus drivers beginning a full strike in South Auckland this morning, FIRST Union said today.
"Ngāi Tahu and Tainui need to be aware that as the owners of Go Bus, they are making their own iwi members worse off by allowing this anti-worker behaviour from the managers they employ," said Syd Keepa, FIRST Union Kaumātua.
"I’ve spoken to bus drivers this morning who are bitterly disappointed that their own iwi are letting Go Bus get away with fighting so hard against legitimate attempts to bargain from FIRST Union."
This morning’s strike action follows a month in which bus drivers have held partial strikes, offered free fares and repeatedly attempted to bargain with Go Bus, who yesterday declined an offer from MBIE to attend mediated bargaining. A full 24-hour withdrawal of labour began at the East Tamaki and Mangere/Airport depots this morning, and striking drivers were met with a significant police presence upon arriving at 4am.
"Auckland Transport have got an important role to play in this too - they’re happy to have cops lining up outside a bus depot when workers are going on strike, but they’re letting their own bus operators get away with underpaying drivers and then persecuting union members for organising together," said Mr Keepa.
"A happy workforce is a productive one, and it’s going to be difficult to recruit and retain skilled bus drivers when they’re not being paid properly for the job and their managers are behaving like dictators - it’s easy to see why there’s a shortage of bus drivers in Auckland."
"I want to call on Ngāi Tahu and Tainui to step in and say enough is enough: iwi is about community, and you have a responsibility to your whānau as well as your bottom line."
Mr Keepa says this morning’s strike received strong public support and bus drivers are feeling vindicated and backed by their communities.
"I would love for iwi to have seen the reactions from people in Mangere this morning," said Mr Keepa. "Make no mistake: the public supports bus drivers getting fair wages and conditions."
"Go Bus want to drive a wedge between drivers and the community, which is extremely foolish because they are one and the same thing."