Some bus passengers may find their trips are free next week, as a union predicts workers with the city's largest bus company will join a partial strike.
Over 800 FIRST Union and NZ Tramways Union members who drive for NZ Bus will be joining their Go Bus colleagues for the protest action, in which drivers plan to refuse to collect fares from their Māngere and East Tamaki depots until Christmas Eve, First Union said in a statement.
Go Bus drivers began their free fares strike on Wednesday.
It comes after NZ Bus drivers yesterday voted not to accept the company’s settlement offer - instead deciding to join their colleagues from Go Bus.
The unions say systemic issues resulting from the flawed procurement model for urban bus operators underlies both sets of bus drivers’ concerns.
FIRST Union secretary for transport, operations and logistics Jared Abbott said a resolution will require Auckland Transport - the contractee of both bus companies - to be involved in finding a solution.
"The industry is facing a shortage, and we seem to be the only ones proposing solutions," he said.
Go Bus said, however, bus rides in South and East Auckland will not be free, and is concerned about the impact on safety of the action.
“By encouraging the small number of union members it has in Auckland to stop collecting fares, First Union is placing the safety of the majority of bus drivers who are working normally at potential risk," Kura Poulava of Go Bus said.
“We know from experience these drivers are at risk of intimidation and even assault from members of the public who believe their rides will be free. Promoting such a situation as this is completely irresponsible and needs to stop before someone is hurt."
She said the company has been working to reach a settlement, without success.