Wellington Scoop

Toilet breaks and secrecy

by Lindsay Shelton
Going to the lavatory. To the bathroom. To the loo. To the restroom. Having a comfort stop. Taking a rest break. The Regional Council’s chairman Chris Laidlaw told us this week that if bus drivers are allowed to do any of these things, the result will be more cancellations and disruptions.

He was worrying about the effect of a new law that was passed five months ago. There is “simply not enough time” to fix things he said on Thursday, warning about the likelihood of “significant cancellations”.

If these breaks are allowed, said Chris Laidlaw, Wellington will need “as many as 80 more drivers” and also twenty to thirty more buses.

But what’s wrong with bus drivers being allowed to go to the loo (or to have a meal break)?

Were they not allowed to have toilet breaks or meal breaks till now?

Did the Regional Council expect them to take bottles or buckets on to the buses, and to somehow keep driving while they were relieving themselves? (Wikipedia definition: micturition, voiding, uresis, or emiction, and known colloquially by various names including peeing, weeing, and pissing.) Were they expected to keep one hand on the wheel while they held a sandwich in the other hand?

The Regional Council makes strange choices on what subjects to tell Wellingtonians about.

Though it released Chris Laidlaw’s detailed concerns about meal breaks and toilet stops, it provided no details of its rates increases.

And though it decided on February 26 to extend the employment contract of its chief executive, it kept this a secret till the DomPost’s Hamish Rutherford revealed it this morning.

Rutherford reports that, after a split vote, it was Chris Laidlaw’s casting vote that enabled the employment contract to be extended. But having expounded at length on toilet breaks and meal breaks, Laidlaw has had nothing to say about the controversial employment decision.


  1. Hamish Rutherford, 6. April 2019, 11:24

    Wellington’s regional councillors were extremely keen not to talk about their decision to extend the CEO’s contract this week. Chris Laidlaw and the council refused to say if he used his casting vote. [via twitter]

  2. Traveller, 6. April 2019, 12:39

    Were regional councillors stopped from having rest breaks during the debate on re-employing their chief executive?

  3. Alan, 6. April 2019, 13:19

    There are a few regional councillors who need rest breaks from their duties – permanent ones!

  4. Dave Armstrong, 6. April 2019, 13:46

    Hey Roger Blakeley – did you support the contract extension for GWRC head Greg Campbell? If not (or if so) who voted with you? [via twitter]

  5. Ashley, 6. April 2019, 16:14

    Some facts: “Frequent urination or the urge to urinate often can interfere with day to day life enormously, and can also be the cause of embarrassment and worry…If you need to go to the toilet … more than seven times a day on drinking approximately 2 litres of fluid, you may have a frequency problem.” I would think this means, on average, toilet breaks should be every 3.4 hours. If someone needs to go to the toilet more often than that they may have a problem.

  6. Meredith, 6. April 2019, 18:10

    Toilet breaks (or none) are easier for Regional Councillors to understand than getting a new CEO or sorting out their messed-up bus “system”. Are we surprised?

  7. Mark Cubey, 6. April 2019, 18:57

    There needs to be a huge cleanout of GWRC councillors at the next election, replaced by people who are focused on the public good. [via twitter]

  8. michael, 6. April 2019, 19:29

    When you consider that the GWRC CEO is paid a $430,000 salary (close to what our PM is paid) and he oversaw the Wellington Transport fiasco, how can anyone justify extending his contract? Actually how can any of the councillors justify standing again. If this was a private company anwsering to shareholders there is no way anyone who oversaw such a monumental stuff up would have his or her contract renewed.
    Why is it that councils are removed from reality and the consequences of their decisions?

  9. michael, 6. April 2019, 19:53

    I assume drivers have always had to have toilet breaks before, so why is it now a huge problem?

  10. Lindsay, 6. April 2019, 20:41

    Two days before Chris Laidlaw’s statement, Unions Wellington responded to a similar message from the bus companies and said they’d had ample time to plan for the changes, which had been working through parliament for 18 months.

  11. TrevorH, 7. April 2019, 8:56

    These clowns have got to go. I’d vote for a pet goat over any of them.

  12. Alana, 7. April 2019, 17:12

    And where is the Regional Council Transport Chair Barbara Donaldson (representing Porirua-Tawa) in all this?

  13. Henry Filth, 7. April 2019, 18:51

    If there is a shortage of bus drivers, surely one would expect pay rates to rise to attract new entrants? Or is the spirit of market and price competition not allowed to apply?

  14. Cr Daran Ponter, 7. April 2019, 19:25

    I understand that bus operators from around the country and unions are meeting this week to discuss how to give practical effect to the rest break changes introduced by the Employment Relations Amendment Act 2018. I absolutely agree with the changes – it’s about human dignity for goodness sake. But more drivers may be required as a consequence, at a time when there is a driver shortage – so a few things to work through.

  15. Meredith, 7. April 2019, 22:10

    Daran do you think the drivers might have left (or decided they would not want to be bus drivers) because they were not allowed to go to the toilet regularly or when they needed to? I don’t blame them! No wonder there is a shortage of drivers. It’s hard to fathom what GWRC thinks is a priority.

  16. Concerned Wellingtonian, 8. April 2019, 7:19

    What were the arrangements before the Regional Council began interfering with the timetable? Did they think that our new unsuitable hub system would be catering for drivers’ needs? Obviously it can’t and should be abolished.

  17. Wendy, 8. April 2019, 9:25

    Not surprised the renewal contract for the CEO was kept secret. As David Nicholls said, “If you have to keep a secret it’s because you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

  18. Tony Jansen, 8. April 2019, 10:05

    Is it any wonder people are not participating in the electoral system when you have “elected” representatives behaving like this? No wonder people have lost faith when they continually see this sort of cronyism, lack of responsibility and the arrogance with their unrepentant belligerence.
    How can a CEO who could not even give his full attention to his job be paid $430,000 let alone have his contract rolled over (in secret)? How could David Ogden “miss” this important meeting where the votes were cast? Was Laidlaw’s support (and casting vote) the price for the CEO’s unwavering support in Parliament when under scrutiny, and in the public domain generally? It seems these people will do anything to keep milking the public purse.
    I want to know how all the Councillors voted, so those few Councillors who read these forums, declare yourselves. Stand up and be held accountable for once.

  19. James S, 8. April 2019, 10:33

    Why are bus operators and unions only meeting now “to discuss how to give practical effect to the rest break changes”? The changes have been clearly signalled for over a year.

  20. Graham C Atkinson, 8. April 2019, 11:49

    The changes have nothing to do with toilet breaks but the very prescriptive rules within the Amendment Act in respect to tea breaks and meal breaks, rules which override the hours of work and rest break provisions of the Transport Act.