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Where to now for the bus dispute?

Well the bus drivers have rejected the latest pay offer:

Union negotiators say they will regroup and assess their next step after the Auckland bus drivers and cleaners they represent today rejected a pay offer from their employer.

The offer of an 11.5 per cent pay rise spread over three years was contained in an agreement reached last Friday between New Zealand Bus and the four unions making up the Auckland Combined Unions.

The unions’ bargaining unit had recommended the new combined employment agreement (CEA), which would have covered about 900 staff, be ratified.

However, combined unions spokesman Karl Andersen said it was voted down “by quite a large majority” of the 700-800 at a meeting today.

Members considered the offer was “just not enough”, he said.

Mr Andersen admitted he was “mildly surprised” by the outcome of the vote.

“We were recommending it as the best deal we could get,” he said.

“I guess you could say I was mildly surprised that it did not get over the line.”

The bargaining unit would meet again over the next few days, but Mr Andersen did not know when negotiations would resume with NZ Bus.

“We need to have a regroup ourselves and reassess where we’re going and what we’re going to present to the company.”

There was no immediate threat to bus services, which were disrupted last month for several days when negotiations between the parties stalled, he said.

The pay offer in the CEA envisaged increases of 4.2 per cent, 4 per cent and 3.3 per cent respectively over the next three years.

NZ Bus operations general manager Zane Fulljames said the decision to turn it down “beggars belief”.

“It is immensely disappointing to our customers, our people and the business,” he said in a statement.

“The unions agreed to take and recommend the offer to their members. This did not happen.”

Mr Fulljames said the company would offer no further comment until it had had time to consider its position over the next few days.

NZ Bus and the unions, who represent most of the bus drivers and cleaners in the Auckland region, have been in negotiations since May.

The employees concerned work for the Metrolink, Go West, Waka Pacific, North Star, Link and City Circuit bus services.

It will be interesting to see if NZ Bus has learned from the utter public relations disaster they caused last time, by locking out the drivers for simply doing their jobs, by ‘working to rule’. If the drivers work to rule again – it will be interesting to see what happens.

19 comments to Where to now for the bus dispute?

  • Jeremy Harris

    I’d lock em out this time… This time it spins well for the Bus Company… Lets face it what has NZ Bus got to lose, not like their public opinion could get much lower…

  • Luke

    probably a bad PR move from the drivers, now NZ Bus can blame them for service disruptions and they won’t look as bad.
    However I would still support the drivers as the increases are not much above inflation ,and I’m guessing the drivers have had no or very low pay rises for a considerable time. Hate how NZ Bus are saying it is an 11% pay rise when that is very misleading, hope the Herald see through that, but I’m not hopeful.

  • If I were NZ Bus I wouldn’t rush into anything. If they let the services operate as “work to rule” then the public will blame the drivers for any inconvenience, they will not lose out on ARTA subsidies…. win/win surely?

  • Christopher

    Hang on – you want to punish bus drivers for exercising their democractic right to reject a pay offer that a majority felt was a ‘fingers up’ to them?

    Personally I wouldn’t mind a work-to-rule operation – I was somewhat heartened by the fact that a work to rule operation would mean that drivers wouldn’t run red lights – something that is far and away much safer for everyone.

  • It would be interesting to see what effect on operations ‘work to rule’ would have. If the effect is huge then what the heck is going on with how unrealistic the rules are?

  • The Trickster

    Well even the union leaders seemed surprised it was voted down last night on the news.

  • George D

    Bus drivers are poorly paid – their headline rates seem okay, but then you look at how many hours they actually have to work for that money, and it’s closer to $10 an hour than $15, for a high responsibility, high stress job. If we want a good transport system, we’ll have to pay slightly more.

  • Joshua

    If you call driving a bus a high responsibility and an high stress job, I’d hate to see what work you actually do each week. Now if any problems arrise from this, e.g bus drivers disobey any rules, let them go, as it’s not hard to find employment in this environment, and I know people who would be greatful for the job, especialy at that pay.

    Don’t think it would be a wise idea to lock the drivers out – just dismiss them if they don’t follow the rules, that way they would have to be careful with treading the line on the work to rule.

  • The thing is that work to rule is, by definition, following all the rules. So there would be no grounds for disciplinary action.

  • Jeremy Harris

    Responsibility for hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment, a cash box and the lives of up to 70 odd people… If you call that low responsibility I’d hate to see what work you actually do each week…

  • Joshua

    Everyone who drives on the road is responsible for the lives of the public and everyone on the road is responsible for damage to equipment, however I do admit I work in an industry with a high (nearly the highest fatality rate) than any industry and myself are responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollar’s worth of tax payers money, so for me it doesn’t seem like they occupy that much responsibility compared to the average Joe.

    The way I see it, if they have as much responsibility as you are suggesting, why don’t the drivers take it seriously, as some of the driving I’ve experienced on the bus is not very safe.

    I understand the the work to rule is by definition following the rules, however by doing so I wouldn’t be surprised if many tried to bend them, and this is where I was indicating treading the line.

  • Jeremy Harris

    Are you an elephant keeper or miner..? IIRC correctly they were first and second…

  • Joshua

    Haha not highest on percentage but actual numbers. have another guess lol, plus I don’t think they get that much of tax payers money.

  • Jeremy Harris

    An accountant for Treasury..?

    Give those guys a bottle of tequila and a gun and it’s plenty dangerous…

    Transpower, perhaps..?

  • Speaking of Treasury accountants, aren’t they bloody useless? I mean when was the last time they projected the tax take accurately to the nearest $5 billion?

  • Jeremy Harris

    When it was less than $5 billion..?

  • Luke

    I’ve heard stories that the previous Cabinet had a good laugh every time the tax take was announced, because it was always so different from the treasury projections.
    Their 2050 year forecasts are quite stunning. In 2006 they predicted debt would be 100% of GDP in 2050, this year they say it will be 223%. Did the treasury never think there might be a serious recession at any time in the next 40 years.
    And now they’re trying to use these results to promote their radical policies.
    Remind me where our Finance Minister used to work?

  • Jeremy Harris

    I read the Treasury document predicting that, it was like it was written by a 6 year old ACT member… I know they’re trying to make these things more publicly consumable but does it have to seem like the draft was possibly written in crayon..?

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