NZCTU President Richard Wagstaff and Tramways Union President and full-time bus driver Anne Reedy have made it clear to the Greater Wellington Regional Council that the Wellington bus fiasco cannot be fixed without the industrial dispute between Tranzit and its drivers getting sorted.
Wagstaff says the Council needs to stop pretending the drivers don’t exist and start engaging with them. “The Council seems to have taken the position that the drivers don’t matter. They have expressed no interest in intervening to make their contractor Tranzit negotiate in good faith, they avoid talking about the drivers in their statements, and they don’t include them or their union in their stakeholder communications.
“That’s a serious mistake. There is no way Wellington’s bus service can be fixed without the drivers’ having the security of a decent collective agreement. The driver shortage will get worse, the goodwill of drivers to make the system work will continue to decrease, and industrial action will increase.
“The Council failed drivers by transferring contactors without protecting terms and conditions. Now they are are failing Wellington’s commuters by refusing to fix this key issue.”
Reedy says the situation is only getting worse. “I have good friends working in Tranzit and they are telling me that the company is hugely short of drivers and struggling to keep the ones it has.
“The morale is really low at Tranzit and a lot of their drivers are looking for other work. They desperately need to negotiate a collective employment agreement if they want to keep and attract staff.
“But after spending close to a year trying to get Tranzit to the table to negotiate all we’ve had is two meetings with them and not even a counter-offer to our claims. They don’t want to do right by the drivers, it’s bringing Wellington’s public transport to its knees, and the Council seems to be okay with this.
“Well it’s not ok. This mess keeps getting worse until drivers get a fair deal. This Council needs to recognise this and start holding Tranzit to account. Or next year they will be replaced by a Council that will.”