Tens of thousands of commuters were unable to catch a bus into Wellington today because of nearly 300 bus drivers striking for 24 hours.
It comes after NZ Bus and Tramways Union were unable to reach a collective agreement on issues such as sick leave and holiday pay.
In response to the strike, NZ Bus issued an indefinite lockout notice, meaning the bus drivers will not be able to return to work until the collective agreement is signed.
Cassie Rose who has been driving buses for nearly six years is currently striking outside the Kilbirnie depot.
“We’re really sorry Wellington public, we’d really like to be driving you around, but we also need to feed our families,” Cassie said.
Another bus driver, Malcolm Craggie said if he accepted the contract, he’d still lose between five and ten thousand dollars per year.
“Just at the moment, I’m on less than the legal minimum wage, I’m receiving $19.89 an hour after seven and a half years on the job, the legal minimum wage is $20 an hour,” Malcolm Craggie said.
Transport Minister Michael Wood said he’s strongly urging NZ Bus to withdraw its indefinite lockout notice.
“It is my understanding that mediated bargaining is scheduled between the parties for the week after next. I also understand that the Tramways Union has offered to enter into mediation on Monday of next week,” Wood said.
Metlink General Manager Scott Gallacher says the lockout call was deeply disappointing.
“We are very concerned about the real impact this will have on thousands of passengers who will be left without services,” Scott Gallacher said.
But, Rose said she’s determined to keep fighting.
“I feel we’re being treated without any care or consideration,” she said.
The strike began this morning at 4am and is set to continue until tomorrow morning at 4am.