Wellington bus drivers to strike tomorrow, calling for better pay and conditions

Wellington bus drivers are walking off the job tomorrow, striking for a full 24 hours. 

It means 40 per cent of services won't be operating, with 1189 runs cancelled, and Greater Wellington Regional Council estimating it could affect 35,000 people. 

The strike comes after New Zealand Tramways and Public Passenger Transport Employee's Union members voted 204-2 to take industrial action during a meeting last Wednesday amid a pay and working conditions dispute with NZ Bus. 

Negotiations with the transport operator broke down last month after NZ Bus signalled plans to change its union agreement to be in line with that held with Auckland union members. 

Union secretary Kevin O’Sullivan said last week that while the Auckland agreement has a higher base rate, it has “minimal penal rates, one week less annual leave, far fewer protections for hours of work and less fair disciplinary procedures.” 

Wellington City Transport Ltd and Cityline NZ Ltd routes through Kilbirnie, Karori, Kaiwharwharra and Eastbourne will be affected. 

The strike kicks off from 4am and will be “continuous”, the union says.

NZ Bus said it was "very disappointed" with the strike. 

"We believe we have made a good offer which would see our drivers remain the highest paid in the industry, but after 8 months of bargaining, the union has refused to move at all. The offer would provide full-time employment for all our drivers and allow us to recruit new full-time drivers to solve the driver shortage in Wellington."

"We want to pay our drivers above the living wage of $22.10, and the offer we’ve made starts at $23.75 an hour. This delivers an immediate pay increase of up to 23% to drivers with further increases to $25 per hour over 2 years. These pay rates are the highest on offer in the industry."

It also says the currently agreement favours longer-serving drivers over new recruits.