Just a month ahead of the first change of contracts for Wellington’s bus service, Tramways Union members spoke at select committee this morning to make it clear to MPs that bus drivers shouldn’t pay the price for competitive tendering.
The call for legal protections for drivers follows the Greater Wellington Regional Council’s decision to tender its bus services without protecting drivers’ jobs, wages, or conditions. A move that is likely to cost drivers $200 a week in lost income.
Bus Driver and Union Secretary Kevin O’Sullivan says the change of provider shows the need to protect drivers. “Right from the start we’ve asked the regional council to protect our members’ jobs and their incomes, but they have consistently and repeatedly refused to do so.
“Our members are working people with mortgages or rent to meet, and with kids to feed, these drivers and their families shouldn’t be paying the price for council cost-cutting.”
Ivana Sheck is a driver and a father of four, he says the lack of job security has made life difficult. “You do your job and you go home and try to enjoy your time with your kids, but all the time in the back of your head you’re always worrying about whether you’ll have a job, whether you’ll be able to pay the bills. We drivers have been living like that for over a year now.”
Driver Wendy Parsons says the stress has been too much for some of her workmates. “Driving a 15 ton bus full of people through rush hour traffic is stressful enough but adding this kind of pressure on drivers has meant a lot of good drivers have quit. More than a few have headed to Australia.
“What the council has done to hundreds of bus drivers is wrong. We shouldn’t be left in limbo like this, no-one should. That’s why we came to Parliament today to try to change the law.”
O’Sullivan agrees: “This legislation might not change fast enough to help our members, but it needs to happen. The industry needs to stop competing by lowering Kiwi’s incomes.”