2 Mar 2019

Dunedin bus driver strike will not affect passengers, company says

10:27 am on 2 March 2019

By Tim Miller for the Otago Daily Times

A bus driver strike today will have no impact on services around Dunedin, the bus company's manager says.

Ritchies Coachlines.

Drivers working for Ritchies in Dunedin are on strike today. Photo: Supplied.

First Union members working for Ritchies in Dunedin are on strike today in protest against a breakdown in negotiations over wages.

The drivers stopped work for 24 hours from 7am and are picketing in the Octagon from 10am to midday. They are also gathering signatures for a petition.

Ritchies area manager Peter Varrie said the strike would not have any impact on the company's services, including cruise ship shuttles and the city's public transport.

"All services will run, everything is covered and the union is very welcome to go out on strike and I'll even take coffee and scones out to them," Mr Varrie said.

About 10 drivers would be taking part in the strike, he said.

He told the Otago Regional Council there would be no impact on the city's buses operated by the company.

The regional council did not respond to requests for comment last night.

First Union southern region secretary Paul Watson said members had been offered a "pathetic'' pay rise to just $19 an hour, with no back-pay.

"Negotiation is about give and take. Ritchies is simply taking as much as it can," Mr Watson said.

"Union members are simply asking for a fair go.''

The union had offered to take the disputed matters to mediation, but Ritchies had refused, Mr Watson said.

"Our members deserve a living wage. This is a wage that would allow them to pay for life's necessities and be more active in their communities. It's not a big ask," he said.

- This story first appeared in the Otago daily Times.

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