The strike comes after Transdev – the French-owned multi-national which operates the rail network – pushed forward with plans to introduce driver-only passenger trains in the city.
“Despite going into mediated negotiations, Transdev is refusing to budge,” said John Kerr, RMTU advocate for the rail workers.
“They’re determined to reduce crew numbers and introduce driver-only trains,” he continued. “This plan put passengers and drivers at risk, and the only reason we can see for it is cutting costs and increasing profit.”
Under the new proposal, train drivers would also be charged with monitoring door operation and passengers – something Kerr says would significantly increase the risk of accident.
“Our members don’t want to inconvenience the public, especially this close to Christmas, but they will not compromise on the safety of passengers or the rail network,” says Kerr.
He also took aim at Auckland Council for contracting out critical public services to multinationals who, he says, want to make a profit by slashing critical staff.
“Auckland Transport must bear some responsibility for what’s happening: their plan to deploy so-called ‘Transport Officers’ on the network instead of guaranteeing there’s a properly-qualified, uniformed crew member on every train is an attack on the safety culture of our railway,” he said.
The strike comes just weeks after rail workers in Wellington took industrial action over Transdev’s attempts to slash their working conditions and penalty rates for working weekends.
The Auckland strike will take place from 2am on Friday 8 December until 1:59am on Saturday 9 December.
Disruption is expected in Auckland tomorrow after rail workers confirmed they would be walking out for almost 24 hours.