19 Nov 2018

Bus disruptions in Hamilton due to strike

10:33 am on 19 November 2018

Some bus services in Waikato have been rescheduled because of planned strike action by some drivers.

A Go Bus Hamilton commuter bus.

A Go Bus Hamilton commuter bus. Photo: SUPPLIED

The region's bus operator Go Bus announced yesterday that union members would be locked out after they said they would not be collecting fares from passengers in action relating to a long-running industrial dispute.

On Friday FIRST Union announced that its members would not collect fares on the company's Waikato urban bus services for two weeks, starting today.

But Go Bus said they could not allow drivers to not collect fares as it could raise serious health and safety issues for its non-union drivers.

Go Bus chief operating officer Nigel Piper told Morning Report the lockout affects 70 drivers.

"We were very concerned about the situation where you had drivers on some buses collecting fares and some drivers on others not collecting fares and drivers themselves raised this issue with us."

He said confrontation could happen if someone got on a bus expecting a free ride and their driver was a non-union member and still collecting fares.

The fares go directly to the regional council, he said, and the company doesn't profit.

"Not to collect them (fares) would have put us in breach of our contract with the regional council."

"We've been really supportive of the living wage but at the moment we are simply unable to afford anything other than the offer that we've put on the table."

The disruption is primarily in Hamilton City, he said.

First Union secretary Jared Abbott told Morning Report Mr Piper's comments were typical smoke and mirrors.

"If they thought passengers were going to be angry if they weren't getting free fares, how angry would passengers be now that there's not going to be buses running."

He said "a bunch of thugs" at the depot had been violent towards the drivers this morning.

"Reports of women getting assaulted, people getting punched," he said.

He said the company doesn't care about health and safety and drivers are continuously having to breach the number of hours legally allowed to be driven consecutively.

The Waikato Regional Council said the temporary schedules will allow regional buses to operate as normal and Hamilton's peak bus services to continue.

But there will be reduced services across the Hamilton network during off peak times.