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Metlink Commits To Wage Increase And Shift Redesign For Tranzurban Drivers

From December 1 Metlink will be increasing Tranzurban driver wages to $27 an hour as part of its commitment to retain and attract drivers across the region.

The move will take Tranzurban drivers up to a flat rate of $27 an hour, with Wellington drivers seeing around a $3 an hour increase, Hutt Valley drivers $3.80 and Wairarapa drivers $4.25. This latest action follows a series of ongoing initiatives throughout the course of the year by Metlink to improve drivers conditions and wages, including: support for Fair Pay Agreements, bringing all driver’s base rates up to the Living Wage of $22.75, wage increases and a reduction in split shifts for drivers at NZBus, as well as the trial of free sanitary and health products for frontline staff at various locations.

Scott Gallacher, General Manager for Metlink, says the increase is part of Metlink’s ongoing work with each of its operators to bring more certainty to staff and more reliability to passengers.

“We work closely with all of our operators to understand their pressures as we work towards the common goal of having a well-recognised workforce and a reliable and safe network for our customers and communities. Earlier in the year we worked with Tranzurban to introduce the Living Wage for their Hutt Valley, Porirua and Wairarapa drivers to bring rates in line with drivers based in Wellington City. This latest initiative helps move all drivers well beyond the living wage and I’d like to thank Tranzurban for the open and constructive manner in which they have partnered with us to achieve this outcome.

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“The next stage is looking at how shifts are put together. With both good wages and good shifts in place we can ensure public transport remains an attractive employment option,” says Scott Gallacher.

As part of the agreement Metlink will be working with the Tranzurban team on the creation of new and improved shifts and the rolling out of timetable adjustments.

“This is something we successfully implemented earlier in the year with NZBus and The Tramways Union and we want to be able to give the drivers at Tranzurban the same opportunity to have their say - with better shifts for them and more reliable services for customers being the end goal,” adds Scott Gallacher.

Renee Snelgrove, Human Resources Director for Tranzurban, calls the increase and timetable co-design initiatives a big step in the right direction for the bus industry.

“This uplift will provide between a 13% and 18% increase for our drivers, better reflecting the skilled work being undertaken and enabling us to better attract and retain drivers within a region with much higher costs of living than other centres across New Zealand. Split shifts have long been an issue for public transport networks with two traditional peaks during the day, but we’ve seen the great results that this co-design process can achieve and we hope that by working through this together, we can continue to achieve more favourable outcomes for our drivers,” says Renee Snelgrove.

Greater Wellington Chair Daran Ponter heralded the move.

“This is the cost of doing business, or more importantly the cost of providing reliable services to customers. You can’t have reliability without having enough front line drivers. This top up addresses some of the disparities caused by PTOM, reflecting the set up and overhead costs that new contract awards have on their shoulders compared to direct appointments. We’ve given feedback to the Government on a number of areas that PTOM could be tightened up for the benefit of drivers across the county and in the meantime we will look to what’s in our control in our backyard,” says Daran Ponter.

Roger Blakeley, Chair of Greater Wellington’s Transport Committee also welcomed the move.

“This is all about strengthening our public transport network, providing greater reliability to our communities and ensuring that we can deliver on our mode shift targets,” says Roger Blakeley.

Tramways Union Secretary, Kevin O’Sullivan called the actions necessary and long overdue.

“It’s great to see Metlink and Greater Wellington taking action on long-standing systemic issues that have caused pain for drivers. A progressive union led approach will help put issues like pay to bed and give drivers a real voice at the table when shifts and timetables are developed,” says Kevin O’Sullivan.

Regional Secretary for AWUNZ, Robert Popata, said the initiatives were encouraging for drivers and other public transport workers who feel the industry has been left behind in recent times.

“Metlink have opened the door to better wages, conditions and an ongoing voice for public transport workers. I’m sure these initiatives will strengthen future relationships and cooperation between union members, their employers in the operators and Metlink,” says Robert Popata.

Tranzurban drivers are expected to see the wage increase reflected in their 16 December pay, backdated to 1 December 2021.

Metlink is also working with Uzabus and Mana on similar initiatives for their drivers.

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