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24 bus drivers complain about bullying by Tranzurban manager

Report from RNZ
More than 20 bus drivers at a Wellington company say they have been intimidated and bullied – including being verbally abused – by a manager.

A letter leaked to RNZ has revealed that drivers employed by Tranzurban have been victims of bullying by a manager at the Rongotai depot on numerous occasions. The letter, which was sent to the Managing Directors of Tranzurban on 20 March, has been signed by 24 drivers.

Over the past nine months, the drivers say the manager has regularly communicated with them in a “bully type manner, often using an intimidating communication style”.

“He raises his voice, uses swear words, points the finger, stands over us, shows disrespect, is sarcastic,” it said.

Many staff members have resigned as a result of the allegations and others have had to take stress leave.

“When we have been on the receiving end of the bullying, the consequences of that have been that he has made us feel so emotionally, mentally and physically upset to the point that we feel we will be unable to perform the rest of our shift in a safe and proper manner because he has upset us so much, for no good reason.”

One employee said he believes up to a dozen drivers have left as a result of the manager’s behaviour. He is one of five drivers RNZ has spoken to anonymously, who are unable to speak openly, because their contract prevents them from talking to media.

One driver was told to “f-off” by the manager, while another said that from the beginning they were yelled at, and was even left in tears, after the manager “barrelled them out” for being incompetent.

“His whole demeanour when you went up to him at the counter was for him to raise his voice and wave his hands in front/across himself as if to say, no can you go away.”

Tramways Union Wellington spokesperson Kevin O’Sullivan said he was only just made aware of the scale of the allegations.

“This situation’s arisen that people have felt so frustrated that they’ve gone to the media because nothing actually is being done about a situation which should have been addressed, in a proper way – it’s unacceptable that it was allowed to continue.”

However, he said he’s not surprised, as it is symptomatic of the stress the industry is under.

The letter also criticises the company’s HR team for a lack of follow-up or response. “We feel that Tranzurban HR is all too often protecting the manager ahead of us and taking his side of the story when a complaint is shared about him.”

In a statement Tranzurban said it couldn’t comment on the allegations laid out in the letter as it was an employment matter. It did say that all allegations of harassment are taken seriously and investigated, and that they promote the reporting of harassment, including bullying and intimidation.

While sources say that there has been no apology or follow-up, one driver thought the manager’s behaviour was improving over the last few weeks.

Another says that as of Tuesday, senior management were finally making inquiries, and asking all drivers how they had been treated by the manager.