22 Dec 2015

Auckland bus drivers go on strike

3:53 pm on 22 December 2015

Auckland bus drivers have voted almost unanimously in favour of taking industrial action against their employer NZ Bus, after walking off the job today.

A bus on Auckland's Queen Street

A bus on Auckland's Queen Street Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

More than 500 bus drivers attended a stop work meeting today, calling for a 2.95 percent boost in pay and better rostering hours.

During the meeting Metrolink, Go West, Waka Pacific and North Star bus services were brought to a halt and are due to resume at 3pm today.

First Union organiser Rudd Hughes said they were yet to decide what sort of action they would take but said they would wait until the second round of negotiations with NZ Bus at the end of January.

Bus drivers arriving at their stop work meeting at midday today.

Bus drivers arriving at their stop work meeting at midday today. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

Earlier today, organiser Rudd Hughes said all union members were being called to attend, even if they were scheduled to work.

"The reason we've run this strike is because we got threatened with disciplinary action for people turning up to a stop-work meeting, which is a statutory right, by NZ Bus management.

"We took the strike action, and we're wanting all our members to turn up to that."

Link bus services were not affected, and other bus, train and ferry services ran as usual.

Union drivers were meant to cover some of the shifts but had backed out after disagreements with NZ Bus, Mr Hughes said.

"We tried to strike some kind of arrangement with NZ Bus, but they wanted far too many people.

"We weren't really given much alternative."

Bus drivers arriving at their stop work meeting at midday today.

Bus drivers arriving at their stop work meeting at midday today. Photo: RNZ / Tom Furley

NZ Bus chief operating officer Tonia Haskell said none of the drivers were threatened.

"The original proposal was to try and get enough drivers to cover our normal services, and we did work with the unions to find a time where there would be least disruption."

"However, we weren't able to find enough to do that."

It's an early spanner in the works for a bargaining process that has only just begun.

Ms Haskell hoped the company and union could reach an agreement.

"We are in the really early stages of bargaining. There is a lot of water to go under the bridge, and no doubt we'll come to an arrangement that suits both parties."

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