Source: First Union
Hundreds of NZ Bus drivers suspended by their employer over Christmas for a non-disruptive free fares protest will be demonstrating outside Auckland Transport’s office, calling for an intervention to fix Auckland’s broken bus system and get drivers back on the road.
Outside Auckland Transport, 20 Viaduct Harbour Avenue (off Halsey Street & Fanshawe Street), Westhaven, Auckland
08:30am, Monday 9th December 2019
Over 800 FIRST Union and Tramways Union members have been taking partial strike action over the last week by refusing to collect passenger fares, which drivers had chosen as a non-disruptive protest after rejecting NZ Bus’s last offer.
On Friday, drivers delivered notice of their intention to continue the free fares protest through to Christmas Eve, similarly to their colleagues at Go Bus, who are also locked in a long-running dispute over wages and conditions with their employer.
NZ Bus’s response, received on Friday, was to suspend their entire unionised workforce, cancel all major bus services during the Christmas rush, and attempt to blame drivers for the suspension and thus the cancelled services.
Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing, said that while drivers are frustrated and shocked by the heavy-handed suspensions, they would not be cowed and were taking their protest to Auckland Transport, who contract NZ Bus as service provider for urban bus routes:
"Let me be absolutely clear: drivers opted for a clean protest that kept the buses running and the public informed on why they were striking – NZ Bus and Auckland Transport are the ones who’ve made the decision to cancel services during the busiest period of the year," said Mr Abbott.
"Auckland Transport have been aware of the crisis occurring in the bus industry for years – the issues in dispute are not new. It seems like the wheels of bureaucracy only start moving when we are taking industrial action of some sort, and as soon as we take our foot off the pedal, nothing happens."
"Despite what the company are saying, we are seeking a fair pay rate for all hours worked and a reduction of the unpaid book-off time. Currently drivers start work in the morning and can finish 12 hours later having not even made the equivalent of minimum wage – that’s not fair."
"The public are welcome to join us – these are your buses."