Hamilton bus drivers on strike today

By Jessica Tyson

Bus drivers in Hamilton are on strike today for the third time this month to show their frustration over pay rates and working conditions.

FIRST Union members have given notice to Go Bus Transport that they'll strike from 6am to midnight.

The union's transport and logistics organiser Jax Oldham says low income can cause a number of issues for workers who are constantly fighting for more hours.

"While Auckland drivers are forced to be away from home for 14 hours a day due to low pay and all the safety issues that come with a fatigued driver, Waikato bus drivers often either have to constantly fight for more hours, or be partially retired- so able to work part-time."

Oldham says drivers have been asked to jam brooms in opening doors, duct-tape steering wheels and to drive faulty buses with electrical and mechanical faults.

“From passengers sitting in the dark and cold due to failed lighting and air-con units stuck on freezing, to drivers having to fit into steering and seat configurations that cause pain over long periods of driving. It's a mess."

Bus and Coach Association NZ disputes claims

However, the Bus and Coach Association NZ disputes some of the union's claims.

"The serious allegations being made by unions about the safety of bus operations in the Wellington, Waikato and Auckland regions are not supported by the findings of either the NZTA or the police, who check vehicle and working time requirements at both scheduled and random times," the association said in a statement.

The association says union claims of disrepair are not factual and such issues would prevent the buses from operating under their conditions. 

Information for passengers

Waikato Regional Council, which is responsible for managing bus service contracts in the Waikato region, says it is working closely with Go Bus to minimise the inconvenience to passengers during the strike today.

Public transport manager Andrew Wilson says if changes are made throughout the day updates will be posted to the Waikato Regional Council Facebook page and staff will be located at key bus stops in the morning.

Meanwhile, all regional services including Cambridge, Northern Connector, Morrinsville/Paeroa, Raglan and Te Awamutu will run as normal.