Bus drivers settle six-month dispute
Auckland bus drivers have reached a settlement which includes more rest time after contract negotiations with NZ Bus.
Drivers had been locked in a six-month dispute with their employer over a new collective agreement which led to several strikes causing widespread chaos on the public transport network.
Shane McMahon, chief operating officer for NZ Bus, said a "significant effort" was underway to reshape the company's commitment to staff and customers.
Just over two thirds of union members voted in favour of the new agreement which was accepted last week.
"There are still clearly some outstanding issues that NZ Bus will need to work on during the course of this agreement," said Karl Andersen, spokesman for the bus unions.
"Drivers still have real concerns about work hours and duty times and we look forward to making progress on these."
Andersen said that drivers' access to proper rest breaks should be a priority for NZ Bus.
He said their pay rate hadn't changed from what had previously been offered, but they had been given some assurances over duty times and rest breaks.
Last week, the unions complained that "bus drivers are people, not zoo animals" and needed proper toilet facilities instead of having to rely on public toilets and petrol stations.
With no spots on their routes across Auckland for a toilet break, bus drivers were also seeing their cash safes stolen.
At any given time about $250 is carried in bus safes.
Under the agreement Auckland bus drivers would be the best paid drivers in the country on $46,000 annually.
Drivers are paid overtime after working 40 hours per week.
Almost all drivers are employed in full-time roles, and over half work straight shifts.
In addition to their hourly rate, drivers get allowances for broken shifts, meals and certain additional duties.