Council votes to intervene on NZ Bus driver suspensions, drivers return to work tomorrow
Today, at a meeting of Auckland Council’s Governing Body, councillors voted unanimously for a series of resolutions that will require greater direct involvement in resolving the ongoing dispute between unions and NZ Bus from Auckland Transport and the Minister of Transport, which FIRST Union welcomes.
Bus drivers will be back on the road from tomorrow but serious issues remain to be resolved in the bargaining process between FIRST Union and the NZ Tramways Union and employer NZ Bus, FIRST Union said today.
The motion, moved by Counsellor Cathy Casey contains the following commitments from the Auckland Council after counsellors voted unanimously in favour:
Consideration of Extraordinary Items (moved by Cr C Casey, seconded by Mayor P Goff):
That the Governing Body:
a) Note with concern the industrial dispute affecting bus services and its impact on commuters, bus drivers and their families and potentially undermining a shift to use of public transport,
b) Request Auckland Transport to work with NZ Bus and the relevant unions to find a solution to end the current dispute,
c) Request Auckland Transport and the Chief Executive of Auckland Council to work on sustainable long-term solutions,
d) Request the Mayor to write to the Ministry of Transport on behalf of Council seeking urgency to be accorded to the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) Review to ensure that problems of recruitment and retention of bus drivers are addressed and a fair and equitable resolution is reaches around drivers wages and working conditions.
Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics, Operations and Manufacturing, said today’s resolution was an important win for suspended bus drivers, who could now return to work, but that the bargaining process was far from complete and drivers, while pleased to hear of the Council’s plans for intervention, would not rule out further strike action if progress could not be achieved during future negotiations.
"Serious concerns about wages and conditions have not yet been fully resolved, but with the Council’s input and oversight, the process of negotiation now has a fairer and more transparent basis to work from," said Mr Abbott.
"Negotiations with NZ Bus will continue this afternoon and over the coming days with the aim of reaching a resolution that complements the Council’s decision to facilitate the process of a fair settlement, and one that gets the drivers back on the road in the short term while seriously evaluating a fix for the broken PTOM model for the longer term."
"In good faith, drivers will be back to their routes from tomorrow, though some major concerns remain about future negotiations with NZ Bus and further industrial action may be possible depending on the tone of negotiations going forward."
"With the Council’s guiding resolution, we are hopeful that NZ Bus will take the same approach and engage proactively with the unions and Council on the issues that matter to all of us."
"This is not the perfect situation - drivers have not yet won fair wages and conditions - but it is a meaningful victory in the short-term and a solid foundation from which we can build consensus for a public transport system that works for everyone, including the drivers."