Bus lockout

I’m among one of the tens of thousands affected by the suspension of bus services. What bugs me the most is there’s no end in sight – we simply don’t know when the situation is going to be resolved. I’ve paid $110 upfront for my monthly pass, and can only hope that NZ Bus will compensate us for the lost days.

In the meantime, I’m being forced to walk / get T to drop me off at Blockhouse Bay central to catch an Urban Express bus (which don’t come often) or take me all the way into town, and vice versa for the trip home. Each journey costs me $3.87 – that’s around $40 a week, if the lockout carries on that long! By contrast, my monthly pass works out to less than $30 a week, and provides unlimited travel…

If I knew how long the NZ Bus routes would be out, I could purchase a 3day or 7day UE pass. But there’s no point doing that, so I’ll just continue to be left out of pocket.

The bus drivers are not actually striking, so they shouldn’t be blamed. They are being locked out by their employer. They are currently in dispute over pay, and the drivers and cleaners were planning to work-to-rule; ie do exactly what was required of them, and nothing more. This would also include not driving buses which aren’t up to scratch in terms of safety standards. Sounds fair enough to me! It’s only the company that then decided they wouldn’t allow the drivers in to work at all. They actually physically are being locked out of their work grounds. Gates, fences, etc.

The company has offered a pay rise of about 70c on their current hourly rates of $14.05c to $16.75c , to be followed by 50c next year and 60c in 2011. So that’s about 10 per cent. IMO, that sounds reasonable, especially given they’re negotiating at a time when we’re still in a recession. Apparently, the unions say take-home pay of $544 is not enough (Really? Now that sounds to me like a sense of entitlement…)

I also disagree with those who say we should tip drivers. I catch theĀ  bus at least twice a day. The vast majority of drivers are civil at best. They are surveyed by mystery shoppers, who assess not just their driving skills but their attitude and helpfulness. I’m sure those who go above and beyond are recognised for it (trust me, I do these surveys, and the criteria is tough).

I do however, think the practice of split shifts is disgraceful. If nothing else, I think this is something that should be abolished. I don’t necessarily agree drivers are underpaid, but if you’re at work, you should be paid for every hour that you’re there.

Either way – please, just hurry up and reach a solution!

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