More than 250 buses cancelled in Wellington, drivers decide on strike action

More than 250 bus services have been cancelled in Wellington while drivers attend a stop-work meeting to consider a pay offer from NZ Bus, which is expected to be “firmly rejected”.

The Tramways Union and NZ Bus have been wrangling over a collective agreement until there was a “complete and irreparable breakdown in the negotiations” two weeks ago, according to union secretary Kevin O’Sullivan.

The stop-work meeting today is scheduled from 10.30am to 12.30pm, O’Sullivan said.

“We’ll be discussing the company’s pay offer to settle our collective agreement with NZ Bus and what to do in the event that the offer is unacceptable.

“We’re going to have a secret ballot to initiate industrial action.”

O’Sullivan said he anticipated the company’s proposal to settle the agreement will be firmly rejected.

It’s understood NZ Bus wants to move Wellington drivers to a collective agreement similar to its Auckland ones where the base rate is higher but trade-offs are made like lower penal rates.

An NZ Bus spokesperson said the company’s offer was a good deal.

“We support the moves for all drivers in the Wellington region to be paid the living wage of $22.10. In addition, under the terms we are proposing all our drivers would immediately be paid a base hourly rate of $23.75. It also provides a path to $25 an hour in two years.

“We are also proposing to keep penal rates for drivers working in excess of 40 hours a week and when working rostered days off. This collective is already working well in Auckland.

Metlink has advised bus passengers will face disruption to their travel today between 9am and 3pm.

All off-peak services on Wellington city routes 2, 3, 12, 14, 18e, 20, 21, 22, 30x, 31x, 81, 83 and 84 will be cancelled during this time.

The union meeting will not affect school services but will impact some customers using off-peak services.

Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher said passengers should check before they travel.

“We will keep passengers updated through our website and social media channels, as well as through public information on radio.

“While some of our services might be impacted, Metlink fully supports union members attending this important meeting.”

Source: Read Full Article