12 Oct 2009

Another day of disruption for Auckland commuters

6:49 pm on 12 October 2009

Up to 80,000 Aucklanders face at least another day of major disruptions to public transport services as an impasse between a bus company and workers over pay continues.

About 700 buses are off the road and commuters have had to find alternative transport arrangements since Thursday due to the long-running dispute.

Auckland Combined Unions issued a notice of work to rule last week after rejecting the company's most recent offer of a 10.5% pay increase, spread over three years.

In response, NZ Bus locked workers out and says services will remain suspended until the notice of industrial action is withdrawn by unions.

NZ Bus operates many major bus routes in the region and is paid $58 million a year by ratepayers through the Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA).

Services affected are those run by Metrolink, North Star, Go West, Waka Pacific, Link and City Circuit.

Unions and NZ Bus resumed mediation at the Employment Relations Authority on Monday but have failed to reach an agreement.

180 days to cancel contract - ARTA

On Monday, Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee called for an ultimatum to be issued to NZ Bus to resume services or lose its contract.

The council says Auckland will not be held to ransom and if NZ Bus cannot deliver services, it will find a company which can.

Mr Lee has written to the chairman of the Auckland Regional Transport Authority urging it to take quick action.

However, ARTA spokesperson Sharon Hunter told Checkpoint it would need to go through a disputes process and terminating the contract with NZ Bus could take up to 180 days.

Ms Hunter says the action by NZ Bus would have to continue for a few more days before ARTA considered invoking the dispute resolution process.

She believe there may be a resolution in sight.

NZ Bus says Mr Lee's comments are unhelpful and it will focus on working constructively through the mediation process.