The largest union for bus drivers wants those working to get better wages through the Covid-19 lockdown, and stronger protections when the alert levels drop.
First Union said the drivers were not being rewarded for their essential work and close interaction with the public.
The union's transport, manufacturing and logistics secretary, Jared Abbot, said many drivers were still on the minimum wage while supermarket workers had a temporary 10 percent pay bonus and more safety equipment.
He said he wanted the government to acknowledge bus drivers' work by solving existing pay disputes in the industry.
Abbot said the union would be watching closely to ensure the risk of drivers catching Covid-19 stays low.
Buses will be cashless and social distancing will be encouraged on board during alert level 3, which begins at midnight tonight and will mean many more businesses are able to open and some children will resume classes at school.
Abbot said many bus drivers overseas had been fatally infected by Covid-19, and public transport providers should be ready to add security guards, PPE and plastic face shields to buses if there was more community transmission.
Read more about the Covid-19 coronavirus:
- See all RNZ Covid-19 news
- Your Covid-19 questions answered - from health and employment to managing anxiety
- A timeline: How the coronavirus started, spread and stalled life in New Zealand
- Covid-19 symptoms: What they are and how they make you feel
- Touching your Face: Why do we do it and how to stop
- Scientific hand-washing advice to avoid infection
- Coronavirus: A glossary of terms
- The Coronavirus Podcast