KiwiRail is looking to slice millions of dollars off its wage bill for its Cook Strait ferries, saying it pays some workers up to 60% more than its competitors.
The company says passenger and freight growth across the strait is static, and it is also looking at whether it can run the service with two instead of three ships.
Interislander general manager Thomas Davis says they are prepared to pay more like 10% above their competitors to ensure they have a quality workforce.
However, Mr Davis says such a change will not happen quickly and perhaps only to new workers, with current employees staying on their present wage.
He says they deal with four unions and have already made some progress towards achieving their aims.