Go Bus drivers in south and east Auckland will continue their strike action over a “bitter” employment dispute with the company by offering free fares to passengers from this morning until Christmas Eve, FIRST Union said today.
More than 110 FIRST Union members at several Go Bus depots (East Tamaki, Mangere/Airport) went on strike over a month ago following a long-awaited bargaining meeting that the company used to signal their intention to cancel future negotiations with the union.
Since that meeting, bus drivers have held both partial strike actions like offering free fares as well as full withdrawals of labour that have seen relations with the company deteriorate, the union said.
“The drivers are tired and frustrated but are standing strong,” said Jared Abbott, FIRST Union Secretary for Transport, Logistics and Manufacturing.
“A free fares protest is a great way for bus drivers to continue the strike in a non-disruptive fashion while engaging with their passengers and communities.”
In a statement, Go Bus has retorted with the following
THE MERRY-GO-ROUND OF STRIKE ACTION NEEDS TO STOP
• Bus rides will NOT be free on Go Bus services in south and east Auckland
• Latest strike action by First Union will compromise driver safety
Go Bus has confirmed that bus rides will NOT be free on its services in south and east Auckland and is deeply
concerned the latest strike action by First Union will compromise driver safety.
The Company has tried to explain this to the union on countless occasions, but all to no avail, said Kura
Poulava, HR Director, Go Bus.
“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.
“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,” continues Ms Poulava.
“Go Bus has been ready, willing and able to reach a settlement with its drivers who are represented by First
Union for some time now. It is extremely frustrating that the union seems to have abandoned the idea of
reaching a deal for its members, and instead has embarked on a pointless and unproductive cycle of strike
action. The facts speak for themselves: Go Bus has an offer on the table, we have a date for mediation set, yet
the union continues to call strikes. This action is the second this week.”
Go Bus has made an offer for settlement of the Auckland Go Bus and First Union Collective Agreement.
The offer includes a 2% pay increase for a one-year term, an offer that confirms Go Bus’s position as one of the
better paying bus companies in Auckland.
Poulava says the Company is very disappointed in the actions of a small number of drivers and union officials
who have tried to portray the Company as an unwilling party to the negotiations.
“We note that in the past few months, this union has settled a collective agreement with another operator for
less than we are already paying, while at the same time encouraging our employees to go on strike. That
doesn’t make much sense to us, particularly as we are one of the better paying bus operators in Auckland, and
not even this union cannot dispute that.
“It is clear to us that First Union has sold our drivers whom they represent a pup!”
The Company has confirmed with the union that if the pay deal is accepted, it will be able to process the new
increases payments in time for Christmas.