There may be some disruption to bus services in Auckland tomorrow as NZ Bus intends to lock out bus drivers. This is in response to a strike that the unions had organised. The unions want pay increases for their drivers who currently earn between $14.05 to $16.75 an hour. Last month NZ Bus offered a pay increase of 9.9 per cent over three years but the unions rejected this. They want a 4.2 per cent increase over the next year. Unions also want drivers to have 10 minutes between each run so that they can stretch and go to the bathroom. NZ Bus has said that the lock out is necessary because they are unable to run their business safely or reliably without the striking drivers. People should make other arrangements and not rely on catching the bus. Up to 80,000 people catch the bus each day in Auckland alone.
Strikes and lockouts are legal in New Zealand with some exceptions, for example, if it is an essential service such as a fire brigade and the union has not given enough warning. If an employer locks out employees, they cannot work and they will not get paid. There are a lot of terms and conditions around striking and the proper process of giving notice must be followed for it to be legal.
Contributed by Anita Jones