Bus commuters in Waikato ride for free as drivers call for the Living Wage – FIRST Union


Christmas comes early for bus commuters in the Waikato this year as around 120 bus drivers will refuse to accept payment from passengers. Passengers will be receiving free rides on services provided by Go Bus in Hamilton, Te Awamutu and Otorohanga from Monday (19th November) as drivers protest their abysmal wages.

Drivers voted to stop taking fare money from customers this week as the dispute between Go Bus and workers continues. Bus Drivers are taking this partial strike action in order to drive home the message to their employer and to the district council who engage Go Bus, that bus drivers can’t continue on such incredibly low wages. Bargaining began in March 2017 and still no resolution has been reached.

FIRST Union and Go Bus are now engaged in Facilitated Bargaining through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), however FIRST Union divisional Secretary, Jared Abbott says drivers are within their rights to fight for a living wage.

“Drivers are determined to achieve a Living Wage. We welcome the opportunity for an Authority member to assist with the bargaining, but if the outcome of those talks is that drivers are recommended to accept less than they can live off, we will continue to fight for what is fair.”

The action follows a series of strikes by drivers that have been disrupting services, the most recent being last month. The union says the change in tact is in order to ensure the public doesn’t bear the brunt of the company’s refusal to meet the drivers’ demands.

“By refusing to accept payment passengers are actually better off rather than having to make other arrangements. Bus drivers love their jobs and they love serving the public but the pay has become so low that they are struggling to survive. This action sends a message to both the company and the council that enough is enough.”