NZ Bus planning for proposed strike

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A proposed strike – potentially set to occur next week – can easily be avoided, according to the unions representing Auckland bus drivers.

The unions made the claim preceding talks with NZ Bus, which went ahead yesterday.

Radio New Zealand reported that members of the Auckland Tramway Union and First Union received ballot papers yesterday, proposing a city-wide strike that would last for two hours next Tuesday so that they could attend a stop-work meeting.

NZ bus has around 1,200 employees in Auckland, 1,000 of whom are union members.

On Friday, NZ Bus reportedly sent an email to staff which stated that any employees who refused to work as rostered could face disciplinary action.

The ballot will run for three days, with the result being finalised on Friday.

Tonia Haskell, COO of NZ Bus, said that efforts would be made to roster non-unionised employees during the planned stop-work meeting.

“We have been drawing up a list today of people who will be rostered on and we are going to encourage people to swap their shifts if they really want to attend the meeting,” she said.

Haskell added that she had not seen the email sent out by the organisation on Friday.

“Members are allowed to attend union meetings, in fact they are encouraged to attend them,” she said.

“The collective agreement we have with the unions for meeting such as this in the middle of bargaining, we are required to run normal services.”

First Union organiser Rudd Hughes told RNZ that in the meantime, he was hopeful a strike could be avoided.

He added that it was unlikely a strike three days before Christmas would be hugely detrimental to bus passengers, especially as it would be occurring in the middle of the day and there would be a skeleton staff to ensure some services would continue to run.

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