A stop work meeting of the Wellington Tramways Union today voted for region-wide industrial action starting from 23 October, following continued failure by Wellington bus operators to negotiate on collective bargaining agreements.
Richard Wagstaff of the CTU addresses the Tramways Union meeting. Photo by Tramways Union.
The drivers voted to strike indefinitely from Tuesday 23 October, the day after Labour Day, at any and all of the region’s public transport bus companies that have not settled a collective employment agreement by that date.
The companies facing industrial action are Tranzurban Wellington and Tranzurban Hutt (both subsidiaries of Tranzit), Uzabus and NZ Bus.
The meeting also passed a vote of no confidence in the Greater Wellington Regional Council to operate a regional bus network, calling on the Government to appoint an independent commissioner to run pubic transport in the region.
Tramways Union general secretary Kevin O’Sullivan regretted the necessity of the action, saying that no one has listened to what has proved to be accurate warnings for the last two years of the problems inherent in the system.
He says the strike is a matter of last resort.
“We have been trying to get Tranzit to negotiate for months and still have no offer from them or any indication they are taking the bargaining seriously. This is why we have now had to set a deadline.
“Meanwhile the GWRC has been telling us everything is fine and refusing to hold their contractors to account for their lack of good faith. It’s become clear that the Council has no intention of fixing the industrial dispute or the public transport system. They need to have it taken away from them before they make matters worse.
“There is no way that Wellington’s bus system can be fixed without a fair deal for drivers. Until this is settled the driver shortage will continue, the industrial action will continue, and drivers will continue to have no reason to even try to make this broken system work.
“We don’t want to make life harder for Wellington commuters, the council has already done enough of that, but if we don’t take a stand things are only going to get worse for everyone. I think the people of Wellington understand that which is why our members have had so much support.”
The meeting ran longer than expected, which has caused a later resumption of services by Metlink than previously advised.