Dozens of Wellington bus drivers to strike as students head back to school

Dozens of Hutt Valley bus drivers are planning to strike on Monday, just as students head back to school.

Wellington's Tramways union that represents the drivers says it's protesting unlawful and dangerous shift schedules set by bus operator Tranzit. 

The union lodged a strike notice on Friday night that will see 50 drivers walk off the job early on Monday.

"Someone starts and they work five and a half hours and have half an hour off for a meal break, work another half an hour, then have two hours off unpaid, then have half an hour on, then another meal break, and then work for another five hours," Tramways Union representative Graeme Clarke said.

But in a statement Tranzit says all driver shifts are in line with regulations.

It says it has talked to Tramways Union in the last six weeks and is open to discussing a possible collective agreement.

However, Graeme Clark said Tranzit has not been forthcoming with these negotiations.

"Six weeks ago they said they'd start negotiations with the union within seven days, and we're still waiting, they have done absolutely nothing," he said.

The strike action is the latest issue in a week plagued by problems for Tranzit as it started running half of the bus routes in the capital.

The regional council, which gave it the contract, acknowledged there are issues with a shortage of bus drivers and technical problems with the bus stop alert system.

"It will be difficult for the next week or two probably and there will be more complaints, and you know on behalf of the council all I can do is really apologise for that and assure people that it will get better," Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw said.

Despite the strike action, Tranzit says it's ready for the back to school rush, come Monday morning. 

Wellington’s Tramways union says it’s protesting unlawful and dangerous shift schedules. Source: 1 NEWS

Dog sniffs out drugs hidden in socks mailed to prisoner

A drug detector dog at Manawatū prison sniffed out more than 11 grams of cannabis oil that were hidden in a pair of socks mailed to a prisoner.

The prison's acting director Graham Dack said the socks and drugs were handed over to police this week, and inquiries were underway to find out who sent them.

Drugs and other contraband created a dangerous environment for staff and prisoners, Mr Dack said.

"Being affected by drugs prevents prisoners from fully engaging in the education, employment and rehabilitation programmes that can help them live a life free from crime when they are released.

"It is disappointing when we see people try to push boundaries in order to get drugs or other contraband in to prisoners.

"We want people who try to introduce items into prisons to know that we will find them and you will face consequences."

There are 25 detector dog teams operating across the country and it was detector dog Zena who made this particular find.

Socks used to try and smuggle drugs into Manawatu Prison. Source: Supplied


NZ Muslim community angry alt-right speakers given Kiwi working visas

New Zealand's Muslim community is angry that two controversial alt-right speakers have been allowed to work in the country.

Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were banned from speaking at Auckland Council's Bruce Mason Centre, but were yesterday granted working Visas by Immigration New Zealand.

The two Canadians are known for their Islamophobic views and the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand president, Hazim Arafeh, expressed his displeasure after the visa announcement.

"This type of speech makes all Muslims of the world very, very angry.

"There's a lot of tension in the community - there's a lot of profiling of Muslims and that's not conducive to the public good."

The two speakers are used to finding themselves at the centre of controversy.

Lauren Southern turned up to an event for survivors of sexual assault carrying a sign that said: "There is no rape culture in the West." She also wrote a book called Barbarians: How Baby Boomers, Immigrants and Islam Screwed my Generation.

Her speaking partner, Stefan Molyneux, subscribed to a conspiracy theory about a white genocide and claimed that violence was caused by how women treat children.

Such views prompted Auckland Council to ban them from speaking at its venues.

But Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway said they were still entitled to work here.

"The grounds on which someone can be excluded from New Zealand involve things like being involved in a terrorist organisation, being convicted of a crime or have clearly been involved in inciting violence.

"None of those applied to those two people."

Event promoter David Pellowe said moves were underway to try and secure a private venue for the two speakers but it was proving difficult.

A group of prominent New Zealanders, including former National Party leader Don Brash, formed the Free Speech Coalition after the council issued its ban.

The group yesterday filed papers in the High Court to try and get the ban overturned, and member Stephen Franks welcomed the latest decision to grant visas.

"The minister said it exactly right: You might not like something but you still defend their right to come here and say it."

The two provocateurs are currently in Australia, a trip that has not been without controversy.

Ms Southern, who arrived at an event wearing a T-shirt that read, "It's okay to be white," was billed $68,000 by Victoria Police for the extra officers that had to be deployed due for her safety.

Organisers of the New Zealand leg of the tour hope to bring the speakers across the Tasman around August 3. 

Canadian conservative and libertarian activist Lauren Southern. Source: