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Free bus fares in Auckland to continue until Christmas

Drivers for NZ Bus will continue to offer free passenger fares as a partial strike action until Christmas, joining their colleagues at Go Bus, FIRST Union said today.

"The drivers have been offering free fares over the past week and found it a really innovative and effective way of demonstrating their opposition to poor wages and conditions while keeping the public informed and on schedule as normal," said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics, Operations and Manufacturing.

"They’ve received massive public support during the strike action, and they know that their communities are behind them."

"We’ve had constructive conversations with drivers and operators over the last week, as well as stakeholders like Auckland Transport, and we’re hopeful that a resolution isn’t too far away."

Around 800 FIRST Union and NZ Tramways members at NZ Bus - Auckland’s largest bus company - began the free fares partial strike action on Monday this week, joining over 100 FIRST Union members at Go Bus, who are also offering free fares until Christmas. Now, NZ Bus drivers have delivered notice that they intend to continue this partial strike action for a month instead of a week, mirroring Go Bus drivers. Mediated bargaining between the unions and NZ Bus is due to begin on Monday.

In the case of both bus operators, poor wages and conditions linked to the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) and its competitive tendering process for urban bus routes have been highlighted by FIRST Union.

"We need a solution to the mess PTOM has created," said Mr Abbott. "Money is being wasted on training endless drivers that are just up and leaving the industry within months of entering it."

"We need to make the jobs decent in the first place so that drivers want to stay in the industry and the public can get the service they were promised."

"I think everyone - the drivers, the companies, the regulators and the public - would all like to see this come to an end."

"We’re hoping that negotiations over the coming weeks will be focused on lifting the standards for all Auckland bus drivers and fixing the broken system that put them in this position."

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