5 Nov 2009

Auckland bus drivers reject pay offer

8:41 am on 5 November 2009

Unions representing Auckland bus drivers who rejected their employer's latest pay offer say there is no immediate threat of further industrial action.

The 353-284 rejection by NZ Bus drivers on Tuesday afternoon follows action last month that saw drivers locked out for a week and caused disruption for tens of thousands of commuters.

The company and unions also spent more than three weeks in mediation facilitated by the Employment Relations Authority.

The Auckland Combined Unions, which represent the drivers, were surprised at their rejection of the offer.

The unions had encouraged them to accept an increase of 11.5% over three years.

Spokesperson Karl Andersen told Checkpoint the unions saw the offer as good progress towards an appropriate wage, but members saw otherwise.

Mr Anderson says at the end of the day, the democratic process has to prevail and the rejection does not mean more industrial action is likely.

He says he expects to meet with NZ Bus to arrange further pay negotiations by early next week.

NZ Bus says it is immensely disappointed at the rejection and the decision by union member "beggars belief". It says it will take the next few days to consider its position.

Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee says he has washed his hands of ongoing negotiations, saying he is disappointed but it is not the council's role to step in.

Angry scenes

There were angry scenes when it was suggested the ballot be taken again, with some bus drivers storming out of the meeting.

One says he is pleased with the courage shown by the workers, especially considering the Christmas holidays are coming up.

But North Shore bus driver Phil Morgan, who voted for the proposal, say it seems like the other drivers do not care that people are struggling to live.

While Wednesday's meeting was underway at Alexandra Park Raceway Metrolink, North Star, Waka Pacific, Go West, Link and City Circuit off-peak services were unavailable.