According to Metlink, 20 Wellington bus routes will have all services cancelled tomorrow between 8am and 4pm due to strike action by the 240 members of The Tramways Union.
The services which will be affected are 2, 3, 12, 14, 18, 18e, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30, 31, 33, 34, 35, 36, 81, 83, 84, and 85.
The Greater Wellington Regional Council has said that there may be disruptions to other services as commuters look for other routes to travel on.
Unfortunately, there is contradictory information as to the timings of the disruptions. Metlink are saying across all their communication channels that the strike action will result in the cancellation of the listed services from 8am – 4pm.
However, when The Wellington App contacted The Tramways Union secretary Kevin O’Sullivan, we were informed that the strike notice specifically states that services would only be affected from 9am – 3pm. Mr O’Sullivan also assured us that the Tramways Union members have agreed that passengers who are already on buses when the strike begins at 9am will still be carried to their destination. This story will be updated tomorrow morning with a copy of the strike notice.
Similarly, NZ Bus which is the employer of the Tramways Union members, says that the strike will run from 9am until 3pm.
At the time of publication Metlink could not be reached to provide an explanation for why they are saying services are cancelled from 8am to 4pm. The Wellington App will attempt to clarify this by 7:30am tomorrow morning.
Why is the Tramways Union striking?
NZ Bus is the employer of the Tramways Union members. Currently NZ Bus and the Tramways Union are negotiating a new collective agreement.
According to the Tramways Union secretary, Mr O’Sullivan, the Tramways Union initially wanted to hold a single stop work meeting to allow all of its members to attend at once to discuss the slashing of the hours of part time drivers by up to 50%. Mr O’Sullivan said that this also coincided with NZ Bus significantly upping the amount of part time drivers relative to full time drivers.
Mr O’Sullivan says that NZ Bus rejected the request for a single stop work meeting and required the Tramways Union to hold three meetings. The Tramways Union was willing to accept three meetings. He says that on Friday NZ Bus informed the Tramways union that they would no longer allow the union to hold three meetings. In response to this, the Tramways Union decided to issue a strike notice. During the strike the Tramways Union members will all meet to discuss the reduction of hours for part time drivers. Unfortunately for the drivers, the decision to strike rather than hold stop work meetings will mean that none of them will be paid.
According to Claire Neville, General Manager of Operations at NZ Bus, it is not true that NZ Bus had given the go ahead for 3 stop work meetings. Ms Neville said that NZ Bus had informed the Tramways Union on Friday that their obligation under the Employment Relations Act was to ensure that sufficient union members remained available to continue NZ Bus’s operations. Readers can view the relevant section of the ERA here. Ms Neville said that NZ Bus informed the Tramways Union that it accept the union holding four separate stop work meetings. Two of NZ Bus’s three Wellington depots would hold their own meetings, and the remaining, larger depot, would hold 2 separate meetings. She says she was “baffled” by the strike notice, as NZ Bus on Friday had offered to return to the negotiating table in the week of the 21st of January.
Obviously there are contradictions between the accounts of the two organisations. The Wellington App could not independently verify either version, however we have presented both accounts here to allow our readers to draw their own conclusions. We hope that this has provided some context in what is a rather confusing situation. Our readers should use the Metlink tab in the local news section of the app to keep up to date on disruptions during the day tomorrow.
–The Wellington App