Go Bus drivers in South Auckland will continue their strike action over a bitter employment dispute with the company by offering free fares to passengers from this morning until Christmas Eve, FIRST Union said today.
Over 110 FIRST Union members at several Go Bus depots (Mangere/Airport, East Tamaki) went on strike over a month ago following a long-awaited bargaining meeting that the company used to signal their intention to cancel future negotiations with the union. Since that meeting, bus drivers have held both partial strike actions like offering free fares as well as full withdrawals of labour that have seen relations with the company deteriorate.
"The drivers are tired and frustrated but are standing strong," said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing. "They really did not expect this level of hostility from Go Bus, but if anything, it has hardened their resolve."
"A free fares protest is a great way for bus drivers to continue the strike in a non-disruptive fashion while engaging with their passengers and communities."
"Passengers want to know why they’re getting free fares and bus drivers are more than happy to tell them - they are hugely disappointed with Go Bus’s combative response to run-of-the-mill fair wage negotiations."
The free fares strike will affect passengers traveling on Go Bus vehicles from the Mangere and East Tamaki depots, and the strike notice sets an end date of Christmas Eve for the action.
Following a full strike held on Monday 11th November, at which drivers say Go Bus managers attempted to break a picket line by manning buses and driving into the crowd, three bus drivers have lodged Police reports that they were physically harmed during the incident.
"It defies belief that Go Bus have let relations sour to this extent, but there is an easy fix - join us in good faith negotiations, listen to the workers, and look at your competitors in the bus industry who pay their workers significantly more and have some concern for staff retention and wellbeing," said Mr Abbott.
"Bus drivers with the kind of pay and conditions that allow them to look after their families properly are more likely to stay in the job longer and be happier and more productive - and they tend not to go on strike."