Big job losses on the cards after failed NZ Bus South Auckland tender

NZ Bus, which also operates Go West services, has lost its bid to service South Auckland.
JASON DORDAY/FAIRFAX NZ

NZ Bus, which also operates Go West services, has lost its bid to service South Auckland.

About 200 people could lose their jobs as NZ Bus loses its tender to service South Auckland's public transport.

NZ Bus is the current operator of buses in South Auckland, with 153 of its fleet in the area.

First Union represents many of NZ Bus' employees and general secretary Robert Reid said about 250 drivers faced redundancy.

This number also included staff from Howick and Eastern Buses, which has also lost some of its services in South Auckland.

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Reid said notices have been put in bus depots informing workers that Go Bus and Ritchies Coachlines will be taking over the South Auckland services.

However, Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan said the South Auckland tender has not yet been awarded and it was in talks with a number of preferred tenderers.

An announcement on the winning tender will be made in a few weeks, he said.

Reid said the main concern was that if the new contract holders took on any of the existing NZ Bus employees, they would be paid a lower wage than they were getting now.

"We're very concerned that all this has done for the workers is essentially get them from what were not high paying jobs anyway, to even lower paid jobs," he said.

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First Union approached Auckland Transport at the start of the tender process last year and Reid said they were assured companies would be judged on quality and innovation, not cost alone.

"The decision revealed today flies in the face of these assurances," Reid said.

The union will be contacting the successful bus companies to negotiate wages and conditions for transferring drivers.

"We will also contact Auckland Transport and Auckland Council to get their support to ensure that a wage cut for already low paid South Auckland bus drivers does not happen."

Chief executive of NZ Bus Zane Fulljames said in a statement that it was a disappointing tender outcome, particularly for the staff. He could not be contacted to comment on how many staff would be affected.

"However, as an incumbent, we understand clearly the costs of operating in the South Auckland market and submitted a strong, high quality tender to reflect this," his statement said.

NZ Bus staff operating in South Auckland will have nine months before the start of the new South Auckland contracts.

Fulljames said it was important to keep this outcome in perspective.

"While a number of contracts are being tendered across Auckland, other contracts are being renewed with incumbent bus operators through a direct negotiation process.

"NZ Bus has rights to negotiate a number of these contracts, representing in scale around 50 percent of its existing business in Auckland."

NZ Bus is owned by NZX-listed infrastructure investment company Infratil.

Infratil has been approached for comment.

 - Stuff

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