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

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.