Auckland Strike Action
Auckland bus operators are enraged at the inconvenience to passengers affected by continued bus driver strike action. Even those operators not directly affected by strikes are appalled at the behaviour of First Union and Tramways Union and their aggressive bully tactics which has included assaulting staff and damaging vehicles.
Pim Borren the chief executive of the Bus and Coach Association, which represents the bus operators, says Auckland bus companies have had enough of the misinformation the First and Tramways unions are spreading.
All Auckland bus operators have increased drivers’ wages over the past five years, and significantly above the current rate of inflation. “There has never been a better time to be a bus driver” says Borren. The split shift issue is a reality of our industry. Obviously, passengers demand more buses at the start and end of the working day. There have always been split shifts and all drivers are aware of those when they choose to apply for the job. That is just a fact of life in this industry driven by demand “like hospitality workers working at night”.
Borren says it is time for the Government to step in or we will be back to the pre-Roger Douglas days of industrial chaos of 30 years ago. NZ’s economy will go backwards fast.
Borren also thinks it is a mistake that the Government did not consider public transport as an essential service in recent changes to employment legislation. Of course, getting people to work is an essential service. We can’t simply shut down Auckland city’s entire economy because of two militant unions which have gone off the rails.
If all Auckland drivers refuse to take passenger fares as the two unions have encouraged, the bill for Auckland ratepayers will be astronomical. “70,000 trips per day at an average fare of $5 equates to $350,000 per day” says Borren.” “Are ratepayers happy to fund that?”
Students missing NCEA exams simply because of a stop work meeting is shocking says Borren. Bus operators would never put the public in that position.
He says Auckland urban operators have been paying drivers at a rate greater than that which NZTA indexes bus drivers’ pay and in all cases above the current living wage. Operators are not compensated under their contracts for these greater pay increases.
Bus operators value their staff which is why they have ensured pay rates and annual increases have been well above what they are funded for and legally required to pay.
Let’s be quite clear. Cancelled services have been caused by these two unions. “They have even organised blockades on other bus operators’ depots” says Borren. “they have no concern for the public at this busy time of year and are happy to disrupt and undermine so many businesses through the Christmas period. This will have a significant impact on all parts of Auckland’s economy including retail” says Borren.
“First Union’s statements that drivers are being unfairly treated and losing income before Christmas is also nonsense. The Union is paying the drivers to strike and clearly have no regard for the impact this has on passengers. Meanwhile bus operators are unable to provide bus services and are losing income as a result of the unions actions”.
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