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Drivers locked out for following their contracts

Written By: - Date published: 12:15 pm, October 6th, 2009 - 51 comments
Categories: public transport, workers' rights - Tags: ,

Yesterday, around 1,000 bus drivers and support staff issued noticed to their employer, NZ Bus owned by Infratil, that from Thursday they would be working to rule in protest over the company’s unacceptable pay offer.

Essentially, the company wants to combine several existing collective agreements by keeping the weakest elements of each. Sure, it’s offered pay rises on that collective but we’re talking drivers on as little as $14.05 an hour, significantly less than drivers at other Auckland bus companies get. In response to not being offered a fair deal, all these workers have done is say that they’ll only work to the letter of their contracts – no more free overtime, no more skipped health and safety procedures.

NZ Bus/Infratil’s response has been to lock them out. Effectively shutting down a good portion of Auckland’s bus network, which is a totally disproportionate response designed to scare the workers into submitting to the company’s offer. It’s part of a continuing trend of aggressive behaviour by some large companies – the fact that most of the recent disputes have been lockouts or redundancies, not strikes, tells you where the militancy is coming from.

It’s so needless. The unions have been able to settle with other bus companies for better deals without it getting to the stage of industrial action. But Infratil, like Telecom, like Air NZ, like Bridgeman Concrete, like Talleys, thinks it can use the recession and a National government as an excuse to play hardball with its workers.

Infratil will lose eventually, just like the bosses always do when facing a united workforce with fair demands. But in the meantime everyone suffers – the workers miss out on their pay, the company loses income, and the commuting public has to deal with no buses and clogged roads.

Update: No Right Turn asks a very good question:

What does it say about a business if they have to suspend operations if their workers conform to their contract and take their toilet breaks and refuse to drive defective vehicles?

51 comments on “Drivers locked out for following their contracts ”

  1. tc 1

    Yes another story that will get ignored by the mainstream ‘media’ especially with all that ‘talent’ parked in samoa.
    Whilst not wanting to downplay or understate the samoa tragedy it does allow the papers/telly enough vision/human suffering material to ignore important local events which suits the ‘don’t upset the NACT’ agenda.
    Another great opportunity to sit Kate W down and show NZ just how ‘out to lunch’ the minister looking after their long term interests is by simply not being able to provide plausible answers…….recall her performance over BreadGate.

    • Daveo 1.1

      Actually I’d say it’s not really something the media can ignore even if they wanted to. Remember, this lockout will grind Auckland’s public transport system to a halt, block the roads as commuters are forced to travel by car and result in thousands of Aucklanders being late for work.

      Angry commuters, pissed off bosses, congested roads – it’s media gold. The important thing is that the public understand it’s the company that’s caused it to get to this point, not the workers.

      • George D 1.1.1

        The media are so far doing a pretty useless job of informing the public about what the workers are doing. Perhaps later in the week they’ll do their job.

        • Daveo

          Yeah, well there aren’t too many journalists left these days to do any decent reporting. It’s all been cut and paste from press releases so far.

          I expect there’ll be a bit more coverage tomorrow as the lockout nears, and then it’ll go crazy once the buses have stopped and they’ve got some frowny faces to interview.

      • HitchensFan 1.1.2

        Yes that’s the challenge Dave. The MSM will appeal to the ugly “anti-worker” side of NZ. Let’s hope not but I’m not holding my breath

    • Bill 1.2

      Just heard the wee boss fella on the news break bleat on about how industrial action is not he way to go and how he wants the union to sit down and talk things through.

      So there goes the battle for the public’s perception. Where was the union and it’s media releases/control on this?

  2. tc 2

    Good points Daveo…lets wait and see. When the ETS was rammed through not a single mention was made on the 10.30 TVNZ slot (even with the pics being finger jabbingly good) so lets see if during school holidays it gets a full run or just a ‘dispute/disruption’ readover vision treatment as there’s nowhere near the potential disruption when schools aren’t in.
    It takes experience and maturity to cover this type of story and get buy-in from those not directly involved, watch it get covered like an us V them, worker bad but management in a recession do what they have to so msut be good.

  3. TightyRighty 3

    jeez i wouldn’t want to this to be advertised on this site right above all the jobless figures you’ve benn quoting recently if i was a locked out bus driver. I’d be looking over my shoulder at the armies of unemployed you keep talking about and being thankful that i might have a job. I love capitalism.

    • snoozer 3.1

      Take a look at Tighty’s comment everyone. That’s how the Right wants you to feel
      – in competition with your fellow workers,
      – afraid for your job,
      – willing to take a pay cut and worse conditions to keep it,
      – subservient to the bosses

      This is exactly why the Right doesn’t try to get full unemployment and it’s why the bosses tell each other ‘don’t waste a good recession’. Unemployment create the reserve army of labour, pushes down wages, and the bosses get more in their pockets while you get less.

  4. roger nome 4

    TightyRighty also writes for the University of Otago’s Critic magazine. Needless to say, his pieces are equally as vacuous and inane as his ramblings are here. He’s probably a second year BCom student. Probably hasn’t read one single serious critique of his precious neo-liberal dogma.

    Here you go little one:


  5. TightyRighty 5

    thanks for the link, now could i have those ten minutes of my life back? you should be grateful i read past the title, anything with noam is bound to be boring and heavily skewed towards his own twisted anti-democratic beliefs.I can’t make out on your photo if your stupid or just ill-bred? either way crawl back under your rock.

    • Daveo 5.1

      “anything with noam is bound to be boring and heavily skewed towards his own twisted anti-democratic beliefs”

      The words of a man clearly incapable of understanding Noam Chomsky’s anarcho-syndicalism. What a tool. And you seriously mean to tell me they gave this guy a column in Critic?

      I mean I’m all for airing a range of different views but in my day you at least needed to know what you were talking about before they’d let you write.

      • TightyRighty 5.1.1

        opinion different to yours is not lack of understanding. much as you would like to believe your so superior, which kind of undermines your socialist leanings doesn’t it?

        • Daveo

          Firstly, it’s “you’re”, not “your”.

          Secondly, you did display a complete lack of understanding. You can say what you like about the merits of Chomsky’s politics, but the fact is its core tenet is for a radical democratisation of society.

          To call that “anti-democratic” betrays an astonishing level of ignorance, particularly for someone who’s allowed to write a column for the university newspaper.

          • TightyRighty

            does it not depend on how you look at what noam wants to do? or is it just a given that he’s right and his outcomes can now not be criticised?

            • Daveo

              No, I think you’ll find you’re simply misinformed.

            • TightyRighty

              no im pretty well informed. i just view writings like noam’s in a different light to you. doesn’t make me less informed, just much less of a believer.

            • Daveo

              You’d have to have an odd understanding of the word “democracy” in that case. Far more likely you just don’t know what you’re talking about.

              Keep up with that BCA comrade, you’re not going to find yourself employment in any job where you need to think for a living.

        • roger nome

          Don’t you mean “you’re so superior”?

          Fuck, i pity the person who has to edit the steaming piles of horse crap you excrete onto the pages of Critic.

  6. roger nome 6

    Look forward to seeing you around campus TR.

  7. TightyRighty 7

    not likely. if your still at uni, i fear for the females in your tute’s. if you see the error of your ways i’ll see you in the MBC one day maybe?

    • HitchensFan 7.1

      It’s “You’re” not “your”
      FFS. Otago’s standards must really have slipped.

      • TightyRighty 7.1.1

        meh whatever you say grammar dick

        • HitchensFan

          Such an impressive comeback. Now, go burn a couch or something.

          • TightyRighty

            oooh, did the MSM tell you thats what all dunedin students are like? conformist.
            And on that note, I don’t know where this Dunedinite writing for the critic thing came from, but it’s not me. While I enjoy the humuor that is a regular feature of the critic, it isn’t me.

  8. roger nome 8

    “i fear for the females in your tute’s”

    What a vile insinuation. Vile and stupid – isn’t that the very definition of a troll?

    Come on TR – one coffee. Let’s see if you can debate face to face, or if you’re just as dull as your Critic pieces suggest.

    • snoozer 8.1

      getting a bit personal you two.

    • TightyRighty 8.2

      sure, one drink, not coffee as it’s to cliche. next time im dunedin which should be in around 3 weeks time, we’ll go to the cook, i’ll buy you a beer and let you chew my ear off as to why you know so much better than me. happy?

      • TightyRighty 8.2.1

        where is roger? I’m hoping for his sake it’s class, because this is looking like a back down.

        • roger nome

          Can’t be here 24/7 to satisfy your need for attention, which apparently goes unfulfilled in the real world…

          The Cook is too cliche. I’m thinking the Craft bar in the Octagon. You can tell me about the two dimensional world you were taught about in Otago’s neoliberal economics class, then i’ll tell you why it was an oversimplification of things …

          • TightyRighty

            The craft bar blows. carbon copy of so many other bars in this fine land of ours. they do a mean hotpot though. is abalones still open? then i can enjoy capitalism with some long island ice teas and you can wring your hands in frustration as i get bored with your limp wristed view on life. dress code though, no self-effacing student clother. and definitely no badges explaining how frustrated you are with your parents for splashing out to send you to otago.

            • roger nome

              The Craft bar is only slightly better than the Cook (which is one of the crappiest and dullest bars in Dunedin – so it’s interesting that you chose it). Craft doesn’t stink, its staff are courteous and you generally don’t get extremely drunk and/or obnoxious fuckwits (though you may change that). Unfortunately that’s the most you can hope for out of a Dunedin bar these days.

              Also, Abalones died long ago.

              Don’t know why you assume that i come from a wealthy background (in fact the opposite is true). So that says more about you than it does me.

            • TightyRighty

              Dear Rogered,

              I don’t care for your critique of the Dunedin bar scene. i want to go somewhere where i can sit in comfort, do some work, read the paper and get drunk while i listen to what you have to say and reaffirm how little i think of you. a few girls at the place would help too in case you really are as much of a sad indvidual as i think you are.

            • roger nome


              Too bad. I don’t drink at the Cook – it stinks, serves shit beer and is often full of louts. So while you might fit in there, it’s not my cup of tea. Craft has cheap Monteiths if that helps.

              I hope you’re not such a tosser in person. Though i suspect once you meet me, you’ll be a meek wee lamb. Your type usually is.

            • TightyRighty

              And your probably stupider than you seem in real life. I said I don’t care for your thoughts on the cook. The craft blows and if all you care about is cheap beer, then really, you’re no better than most of the drunken larrikins at the cook. Where else is good then you drooling knuckle-dragging troglodyte? the ori? or what about that cavernous wine bar on moray place? how about ra-bar?

            • roger nome

              What’s wrong with wanting good cheap bear? Pretty sane i would have thought.

              The Ori doesn’t exist. Both Diluso and Pequino (the cavernous bars on moray place) are over-priced for what you get, and they’re too small for sociopaths like yourself to escape attention…

              Could just have a six-pack in the Queen’s Gardens. It isn’t so public if you start getting too lippy and require corrective measures ….

            • TightyRighty

              yawn. ok then. a sixer of whatever shitty beer you drink it is then. i was going to raise your living standard by over 1000% for the evening, but if you persist in being tight, even though i offered to pay, so be it. and as for thinking that corrective measures might work with me, you want to make sure your arse can cover the cheques your mouth is writing. it will be good in a less public place, that way i’ll just look im taking out my poor, idiot, third cousin twice retarded.

            • roger nome

              Yawn – flap flap flap …. leave a message on my blog about when you want to meet. We’ll see if all the posturing comes to anything …


            • TightyRighty

              isn’t a blog something you update at least once in a little while? you last post being over a year ago displays a pathetic lack of dedication the cause you espouse. but any way. i’ll post when im ready, then i can lie back and listen to the sound of a wet blanket wringing his hands in despair, while it never dawns on him, that the person he is talking at, doesn’t give a shit.

  9. lprent 9

    Yep. Leave it out you two or I may get into flamewar prevention mode…. I tend to dampen the fire down by removing the combustibles.

    • singularian 9.1

      lprent – when you say stuff like this do you evil chuckle as you hit submit? or maybe you say it out loud through one of those crazy voice synthesizers?

      Need some context here.

  10. George.com 10

    Back to the drivers for a moment. On RNZ this afternoon people from the unions and company were interviewed about the work to rule and the lockout. The chap from the bus company was asked, ‘why the lockout when all the unions have said is that they will follow their exact job descriptions and rosters?’. NZ Bus man wasn’t ale to answer that clearly. Best he could come out with was along the lines of the drivers following their job descriptions and rosters would cause excessive disruption. His answer didn’t make him look particularly credible

    So the workers simply doing as they are instructed to do is excessively disruptive. We all know that work involves more than the explicit employment agreement, it requires tacit skills and the ‘implicit’ employment agreement as well. That said, if the bus company is so dependent on the drivers to make their service work, such that awork to rule will cuase significat disruption, maybe they should consider treating the workers a little better. If they rely so heavily on their staff to get the job done, be good to them.

    • George.com 10.1

      herein apparently lies the problem for the company, the great disruption the drivers will cause:

      ‘NZ Bus refused to be drawn yesterday on the likely impact for about 70,000 daily passengers of a work-to-rule by drivers from Thursday, including five-minute toilet and exercise breaks between trips and a ban on operating defective buses.’

      Yup, most days the workers must have to wear a catheter and drive defective buses.

  11. ropata 11

    Does anyone have figures on how much council funding NZBus receives? Management pay scales vs. Drivers? Profit margins?
    There should be a contractual SLA with the city council(s) and attendant fines.
    The problem with corporations like this is their utter disconnection from the human community.

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