28 Apr 2010

Buses back as drivers end five-hour strike

3:57 pm on 28 April 2010

Buses returned to Wellington's streets on Wednesday afternoon when drivers ended a five-hour strike.

The Wellington Tramways Union says it took more than an hour for bus workers to get back on schedule after a stopwork meeting.

The strike, which began at 9am, officially finished at 2pm but the Tramways Union's secretary, Kevin O'Sullivan, says Wellington's bus schedule would have been disrupted until about 3.30pm.

At the stopwork meeting members discussed how to push forward pay talks that have been going for two months. Mr O'Sullivan, says there has been very little progress on negotiating a collective agreement.

The union wants members who drive for Valley Flyer and Mana Coach Services to get the same pay and conditions as their counterparts at GO Wellington, which, when it was bought by NZ Bus, retained the same rates it had when it was under regional council ownership.

The general manager of operations at NZ Bus, Zane Fulljames, says negotiations with the union on a regional collective agreement had been scheduled to start in the first week of May. Because of the strike, it is not clear whether those negotations will still go ahead .

It is estimated that 55,000 bus users were affected by the strike.

Some people at the city's main bus station told Radio New Zealand that they had been left in the lurch. One said he had been unaware of the strike, and another said she would miss a job interview.