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Bus strike having minimal impact, says Metlink; many services disrupted, says union

News from Metlink
Strike action by some bus drivers is having minimal impact only on bus services in Wellington City and the Hutt Valley. 98 percent of scheduled trips are operating.

There have been some cancellations in the Hutt Valley particularly on the 110 route from Upper Hutt, and on the 160 and 170 routes from Wainuiomata. However, services are still running on these routes and others in the Hutt Valley.

Bus services in Porirua are currently unaffected by the strike action, and fewer than five services have been cancelled in Wellington City.

School services have not been affected by the strike action, and the operator is prioritising all other routes taken by school children.

Metlink regrets the impact and uncertainty the industrial action by some members of the Tramways Union is having on our bus customers and will keep people informed. The advice continues to be “check before you travel”. Travellers can check the Metlink website or the Metlink Commuter app for the latest information or call the Metlink team on 0800 801 700.

While the strike continues tomorrow, our operator ensures that they’ll cope with minimal disruption.

News from Unions Wellington
Unions Wellington has been actively supporting Wellington’s bus drivers strike, and has been pleased at the results today. Unions Wellington Convener Ben Peterson explains:-

“Today’s strike is having an impact, with many services disrupted, although that disruption to commuters may not be as extreme as feared. Tranzit has gone to enormous efforts and costs to mitigate the effects of the strike, they’ve bought in extra drivers from out of town, rostered extra drivers to cover strikers, provided hot breakfasts to non union drivers, and parked dozens of buses around suburban Wellington to keep new drivers away from talking to the union, and arranged a shuttle for staff. They’ve also had extensive security arrangements, with patrolling guards, and have called police on union members at Depots. Members of management have stood over drivers trying to talk to the Union.

Even if the bus service runs with only minor disruptions today, its at enormous costs to Tranzit. This poses important questions:

-if Tranzit has the time to arrange security, shuttle services and out of town drivers, why didn’t they have the time to meet with the Union until this week?
-if Tranzit can afford hot breakfasts, shuttle services and extra shifts for members today, why don’t they include these perks in their contracts everyday?
-Tranzit has clearly spent an enormous amount of resources trying to run the service today, why can’t they have that dedication to commuters when the tramways union isn’t on strike?

Tranzit needs to meet with the Union and come to a fair deal for all parties. Both parties have agreed to mediation, but no date is set–it needs to be done now. Rather than spending time and money on crisis management, can Tranzit please act like adults and resolve the dispute?”

Earlier Report from RNZ
A strike by some Wellington bus drivers has forced the cancellation of about a dozen services, according to Tranzurban. Unionised drivers who work for Tranzurban are striking over pay and conditions.

Tranzurban said 14 drivers have walked off the job, causing nine Hutt Valley services to be cancelled, as well as four in Wellington city. However, Tramways Union Secretary Kevin O’Sullivan told Morning Report those figures were incorrect and it was too early to see how many drivers were on strike and how many services were disrupted. He said it was “definitely more than 14” people on strike.

The Tramways Union said about 40 Tranzurban drivers in Wellington and about 90 drivers in the Hutt Valley were unionised. But Tranzurban, which is one of four bus service providers in the region, said relatively few of its drivers were union members.

About a dozen people from other bus companies have turned up to the bus depot in Rongotai to support their striking colleagues.

Tranzurban spokesperson John Mitchell said there was no significant disruption. He said Transurban had about 300 people working across Wellington and the Hutt Valley, and only 29 employees went to the union stop work meeting where the strike was ratified late last month. The company did not intend to cancel routes, instead running fewer buses on each route.

“We will move heaven and earth to get people where they need to be,” the spokesperson said.

Tramways spokesperson Kevin O’Sullivan said there was talk of a potential date for mediation between the two parties, but that would not stop the strike.

Press Release – Greater Wellington Regional Council – October 24
Regional Council Chief Executive Greg Campbell says that while it’s difficult to predict the extent of strike action starting tomorrow and/or how long it will continue, communication with Metlink’s passengers is his Council’s highest priority.

“Although it has been reported parties will enter into mediation, a number of Wellington, Hutt Valley and Porirua bus customers could face disruption to their travel from Thursday due to the notified strike by some members of the Tramways Union.

“Exactly how the industrial action could unfold is difficult to know. With strike action affecting the services of one of the four bus operators, there could be further impact and uncertainty on the services run by the other operators.

“This could affect buses on other routes arriving on time and possible overcrowding due to an increased number of passengers, particularly during peak travel,” Greg Campbell said. “While we continue to urge all parties to come to a resolution as quickly as possible, our priority during this uncertain period has to be our passengers. We are doing all we can to inform customers so they can better plan their travel, particularly if industrial action continues beyond Thursday.

“We’ve contacted schools and essential services, and our officers are in constant contact with all our bus operators to keep customers updated through our website and social media channels, as well as through public information on radio and at bus stops.

“Check before you travel,” Campbell said. “Use the Metlink Commuter app or website to check for cancelled services, or call our Metlink team on 0800 801 700.”

Wellington.Scoop – October 22
Industrial action by the Tramways Union begins on Thursday in Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Porirua. The strike will involve bus services provided by Tranzurban. The union says that services provided by Mana Coach Services, NZ Bus and Uzabus are “currently unaffected.”

But Metlink warns: though not all services are directly impacted by the industrial action, they may experience heavy patronage demand and delays.

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