Wellington Scoop

What they’re saying about the 24-hour train strike

What they’re saying (or not saying) about tomorrow’s 24-hour train strike :

Wayne Butson, RMTU advocate for the rail workers:

“We’ve been trying to negotiate with Transdev and Hyundai since May and they’ve stalled every single step of the way. The companies are demanding the removal of long-standing terms and conditions in the collective agreement. They signed up to these conditions a year ago when they got the contract for Wellington’s rail services. Now they’re trying to increase profits by squeezing frontline workers. Strike action is the only avenue our members have to get the boss to sit down and be reasonable. We all regret the disruption this will cause for Wellington commuters, and we encourage them to ask the regional council, and their Mayors, some hard questions about why big international companies are being allowed to run down good Wellington jobs.”

An anonymous MetLink person:

Thank you for your understanding during the strike. We apologise if your travel plans have been affected and assure you that we are committed to our discussions with the RMTU to prevent future strike action, and minimise any disruption to passengers… On a regular weekday in Wellington over 30,000+ passenger journeys are by train. With short notice we are not able to source enough buses to transport this number of passengers.

MetLink’s Angus Gabara:

“The strike means there will be no trains so regular train passengers are advised to make alternative arrangements or to not travel on Thursday. We are sorry for the disruption this will cause to our customers’ travel plans. Commuters, people with medical appointments and students sitting exams who have to travel, should allow extra travel time due to the disruption this strike will cause. Bus services are operating as usual but we expect them to be under significant pressure with increased passengers. Motorists should also expect delays because of the extra cars that are expected to be on the roads. At this time there will be no bus replacement services; we are, however, exploring options.”

A message on the Transdev website:

We are sorry if your travel plans have been disrupted by the RMTU strike action. We ask for your understanding during this time and would like to reassure you that we are doing everything we can do to prevent any further disruptions to our services.

An anonymous Transdev spokesperson quoted by RNZ News:

It had accepted all the RMTU’s claims and offered a package that would increase pay and allowances by 2 percent. It respected its employees’ decision but was disappointed the union had decided to strike. It would continue to negotiate with union members in good faith.

David Gould of Transdev, quoted by the DomPost:

“The current strike notice means industrial action could take place at any point between November 13 and December 1. That’s their minimum obligation, but they could do considerably better than that. They could’ve given us a full week’s notice of the strike … and could’ve still made the same point, but they chose to give us the notice at the final hour. They’re effectively holding the city hostage.
“We might yet face another strike notice before that period is over. They are obliged to give us … at least 24 hours’ notice.”

Chris Laidlaw, Regional Council chair:
Nothing so far.

Barbara Donaldson, chair of the Regional Council’s transport committee:
Nothing so far.

Mayor Justin Lester:
Nothing so far.

Then at 4pm, a tweet that did nothing to help anyone and nothing to inspire confidence in the abilities of MetLink and Transdev to work together:

Metlink and Transdev have been working together to look at options to assist rail travellers. We can now confirm that – unfortunately – NO buses will be available to replace train services during industrial action tomorrow.


  1. Anon, 15. November 2017, 13:33

    Metlink’s apologies mean nothing if they’re unwilling to provide extra busses tomorrow. If a student arrives late to an exam and can’t resit, then that’s life-changing for them. I personally know of people who are desperately seeking accommodation in Wellington for the night. Students and their parents don’t need this stress at such a crucial time of year. Explore options faster, Metlink.

  2. Luiz Alves, 15. November 2017, 15:07

    Since the removal of 60 trolleybuses, not enough diesel buses to help in the situation like this one.
    We can see that a lot of strange things are happening at GWRC which should be the first to come up front and try to minimise the situation. They are the ones responsible for this mess, and I am afraid to say that other strikes, especially for the buses, will happen once the new contract begins.

  3. Citizen Joe, 15. November 2017, 15:31

    I bet Chris Laidlaw,Barbara Donaldson etc didn’t factor in strikes when they went cheap in choosing the successful tenders.

    I reckon there will be more industrial action next year with Tranzit taking over from NZBus.

    I can see the potential for a general strike involving both bus and rail workers walking out!

    I wonder if ratepayers can go on strike too and refuse to pay their GWRC rate bill? As I walk most places and hardly ever use a bus or a train, all I get for my GWRC rates bill are 20 year old dirty diesels farting past my nose and house.

  4. greenwelly, 15. November 2017, 15:58

    A report from last year :

    “Wellington will get better rail services for less ratepayer subsidy in coming years, following the appointment today of a new metro rail operator by Greater Wellington Regional Council. The new performance-based contract, awarded to Transdev Wellington Ltd and expected to start in July, will deliver savings of around $100m over the next 15 years.”

    So where did GWRC think the lower costs were going to come from?

  5. Neil Douglas, 16. November 2017, 9:57

    Hey we need more train strikes! Traffic flows coming into Wellington (and going out) on the Thorndon motorway at 8.20am were like Christmas Day. Far less toxic fumes and noise for us Thorndonites too which was very nice.

    I guess either people drove in early or are taking the day off to see Winston, Chris and Rory beat Peru and take the All Whites to Russia.

  6. johnny overton, 16. November 2017, 10:39

    What do you expect when we allow foreign corporations to own & run our key infrastructure. Good on the unions for taking a stand.

  7. NigelTwo, 17. November 2017, 12:05

    @Neil Douglas. I had the same thought about solving the traffic congestion by removing the trains permanently. GWRC are very good at dismantling electric infrastructure!

  8. Neil Douglas, 17. November 2017, 21:04

    Thursday PM peak traffic was surprisingly quiet too. I guess people were as saddened as I was by the All Whites 2-0 loss to Peru.

    Could have been so different if striker Chris Wood had plied his trade for 90 minutes instead of warming the bench in the first half. Bleeding overpaid modern day strikers!

  9. Karim Hassan, 26. November 2017, 15:30

    Ineptitude by both GWRC and Transdev.