Drivers at Howick & Eastern Buses are pledging to continue their fight for fair pay and conditions as the drivers’ union, FIRST Union, prepares to write to the Auditor-General asking her to investigate whether Auckland Transport puts appropriate controls on private companies using public money to provide bus services.
Workers and supporters from the Invercargill community are taking to the protest line as the owner-operator of Pak’n Save Invercargill refuses to negotiate new pay rates for workers, nearly of all whom earn up to $2 less than their colleagues in North Island supermarkets.
“There’s no excuse for the wage gap between South Island Pak’n Save workers and North Island Pak’n Save workers,” says FIRST Union’s Invercargill-based organiser Ken Young.
Over 100 FIRST Union members from Howick and Eastern Buses are recommencing strike action as the company makes repeated attempts to remove overtime and weekend rates for drivers, says FIRST Union Bus Organiser Rudd Hughes.
“From 4am tomorrow to 4am on Friday drivers from Howick and Eastern Buses will refuse to handle cash. Passengers with cash will see their fare money refused, but they can still travel to their destination.”
FIRST Union and the Tramways Union have secured a judgment in the Employment Relations Authority holding that NZ Bus, the Auckland bus company whose drivers took city-wide strike action in February, was in breach of its consultation obligations under the collective agreement with the two unions and in breach of its good faith obligations under the Employment Relations Act.
“Last year NZ Bus introduced new rosters without properly consulting with drivers and their unions,” says FIRST Union Transport and Logistics Secretary Karl Andersen.
While the government confirms the minimum wage will rise 50 cents to $15.25 an hour, a trade union representing low paid workers is criticising the “meagre” increase as a missed opportunity to assist the lowest paid workers and boost the economy at the same time.
“There’s still an enormous gap between the Living Wage, what working people and their families need to survive and thrive, and the minimum wage. The new living wage figure is due to be released later today.”
The retail workers’ union is thrilled with the success of its membership drive at Invercargill Pak’n Save as new members prepare to meet and develop their negotiation claims for the first time, says FIRST Union South Island organiser Ken Young.
“We’ve always had lower union density in the South Island and that’s meant poorer pay and conditions for South Island workers compared with their North Island counterparts.”