13 Dec 2021

Waikato bus drivers to get $1000 Christmas bonus

3:03 pm on 13 December 2021

Waikato Regional Council is giving a Christmas $200,000 bonus to its bus drivers to share.

Go Bus

Photo: Supplied / Go Bus website

This amounts to about $1000 for a full-time worker.

The council said it recognises the job they have done through Covid-19 lockdowns in the region.

The recommendations were among a number made by the Regional Connections Committee, which last month heard from Living Wage Aotearoa and First Union, which represents bus drivers.

Regional Connections Committee chair Angela Strange said the council has worked hard to ensure we are doing the right thing by our bus drivers.

''They're the public face of our services and have continued right through Covid-19 lockdowns and changing requirements over the last 18 months or more," she said in a statement.

"In the Waikato we are struggling to get enough bus drivers for our services, an issue which is being experienced right across New Zealand.

"Our decisions are a meaningful gesture in recognition of a workforce which enables us to get people safely from A to B, and it will hopefully go some way to attracting more people to this profession," she said.

SuperGold Card holders also receive some some holiday cheer with free travel extended to include peak service times from March next year.

"We have an ageing population and enabling our SuperGold Card holders to travel any time on any bus or Te Huia train service will be a gamechanger. It will give older generations unable to drive the greater flexibility they need to get from A to B and as a result I expect we'll see an increase in patronage.''

Councillors also voted in favour of a variation to existing bus contracts, which would enable the payment of $22.75 per hour for public transport workers, backdated to 1 September 2021.

The cost of doing so will be funded by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (51 percent) and Waikato Regional Council (49 percent).

In addition, the council will continue to work with Go Bus to ensure wages for public transport workers are not less than the living wage from 2022 onwards.

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