web analytics

Greater Wellington Regional Council is harming public transport

Written By: - Date published: 4:12 pm, June 18th, 2017 - 19 comments
Categories: privatisation, wages, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The decision of Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) to re-tender bus contracts in the region, without protecting conditions of employment could harm not only the drivers and their families but public transport in the region if it is not reversed. Wellington has one of the highest levels of public transport use in the country, and the short sighted decision of GWRC would, if implemented, destroy this.

In 1989 then transport minister Richard Prebble changed the law so that councils were pushed to contract out urban bus services. In a short amount of time the Tramways Union in places like Christchurch and New Plymouth were destroyed. Drivers were forced to accept low wages and protections around things like hours of work were gone. Every few years regional councils re-tender bus contracts. Drivers are forced to reapply for their jobs, usually losing any service recognition and being forced to accept inferior conditions each time re-tendering occurs.

Driving a bus is not an easy job – I know – I did it for five years. You are driving a large vehicle through a busy urban environment often in peak traffic. You are responsible for the safety of the hundreds of passengers each week. Driving is not a 9-5 job, many shifts starting early in the morning or running very late into the night. Weekends are some of the busiest times for drivers, making it difficult to attend kids sports games or spend time with friends or families. Most drivers have horror stories of when someone walked out in front of their bus without looking, or were verbally or physically assaulted on the job. As a result when conditions of employment are reduced as a result of re-tendering, experienced drivers don’t stick around.

Wellington has for many years been protected from this fate. The Wellington Tramways Union have managed to hold onto pre-1989 employment conditions due to two factors. The first was that the Trolley buses created a natural monopoly, making it very difficult for competitors to move in. The second is that in Wellington City all but one of the bus drivers belongs to the union. The result has been that Wellington has a far lower turnover of drivers than in other centres. In Wellington driving a bus has remained a viable career option where if you are prepared to put in the hours you can earn a decent wage. For the public this has resulted in a far more reliable service, thus patronage has remained high. By contrast in cities like Christchurch even pre-earthquake or Dunedin passenger numbers have declined significantly since the early 1990s, and regular re-tendering of work has been a major factor.

At a meeting I attended with former NZ Bus CEO Bruce Emson in 2010, Bruce commented that bus contract tenders the only way companies could provide a lower cost service was to either cut drivers wages or buy cheaper buses and compromise service reliability and potentially public safety. The 14 million dollar savings over 10 years that GWRC say they will make by re-tendering, will only come by doing those two things.

This issue isn’t unique to public transport. When I was PSA Organiser for Wellington City Council we would often hear stories of contracts being awarded to companies who put in the lowest bid. After a major storm in 2013 a tree fell down in Seatoun. In earlier years when the council had a works unit, council staff would have driven out in a truck and removed the tree. By 2013 this service had been outsourced to the company who had put in the lowest tender. This company did not have all the equipment or labour to carry out the work in a timely manner. By paying minimum wages, this company was unable to retain former council staff who had experience in these role. As a result damage from the storm took considerably longer to clean up than it should have.

The Local Government Act needs to be amended so that councils are obliged to transfer all workers over and to protect terms and conditions of employment. Specifically if a Collective Agreement is in place, then transferring all union members over on this document should be a condition of any successful tender.

But GWRC don’t need to wait for central government to impose this on them. Councils have the legal power to make protection of employment and employment conditions part of the contract. GWRC did this in 2016 when the company that runs Wellington’s rail network changed. The Thank You Driver campaign is calling on our elected regional councillors to listen to the public and protect drivers’ employment and employment conditions. Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, Labour Leader Andrew Little and other leaders are getting on board. GWRC still have time to do the right thing, join the campaign to make sure that they do.

You can sign in support of Wellington bus drivers at www.together.org.nz/thankyou-driver

~ Nick Kelly*

*Nick Kelly is part of the Thank You Driver campaign. Nick was President of the Wellington Tramways Union from 2008 to 2012. He was also PSA’s Local Government National Organiser 2013 to 2015, and is now a director at Piko Consulting.

19 comments on “Greater Wellington Regional Council is harming public transport”

  1. Bill 1

    So would I be right to assume that the trolley bus services have been undermined in some way, and that has opened the door to tendering?

    I talk to the bus drivers down this way. They’re basically on minimum wage, are often subjected to quite horrendous split shifts, and basically don’t do well. The union is almost non-existent and two things happen. One is that drivers see no point in belonging to a weak union, and those that do seem to wind up with those really bad split shifts.

    Whatever the law Prebble passed in ’89, it’s time to reverse it: to get away from liberalism’s persistent stercoraceous vomiting. Public transport should be publicly owned and anyway, private companies are not going to be capable of stepping up to the mark re AGW and necessary changes to public transport.

    • tc 1.1

      Isn’t it also being undermined by its power infrastructure not being kept up with ?

      Thought Sue kedgley was also onto this as I saw her being interviewed about it in Courtney place during my lunch break week before last.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Two letters: HR

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Wellington has one of the highest levels of public transport use in the country, and the short sighted decision of GWRC would, if implemented, destroy this.

    If that is what it would do then that is what it’s designed to do.

    The Local Government Act needs to be amended so that councils are obliged to transfer all workers over and to protect terms and conditions of employment.

    All public service need to be brought back in-house and done by the government be it local or central. It’s the only way to get good, reliable service that doesn’t bankrupt the workers who do the job or the council.

  4. infused 4

    Good to see you still cranking on Nick.

  5. TraderX 5

    Serious question,GWRC is stacked with labour/greens, elected on a pro public transport, low carbon, high wage agenda. Then what comes out often is opposite. Why is that?

    • Wainwright 5.1

      What’s the surprise? Labour and the Greens both think Fiscal Responsibility is the most important thing in the world, promising surpluses at any cost, look to them doing much the same stuff if they get into power. Gotta balance the books!

    • dukeofurl 5.2

      The GWRC members dont choose the tender winner. The legislation mandates that they tender and the lowest tender wins- the whole process is done by the staff.

  6. greywarshark 6

    How can intelligent principled councillors do this? It is just inept kow-towing to neo lib dogma and poor economics in real time.

    Wainwright I don’t know why you are coming to this blog to drivel all over us. Did Kiwiblog turf you out.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      read the story again . The bit where it says Prebble changed the legislation to create a process.

      Elected members have no say on how its done or who gets the tender.

      The government pays the smallest share of the cost of public transport- as a subsidy, but decides the whole process.

  7. AsleepWhileWalking 7

    Wellington has a section in it known as the “bowling alley”, so called because of buses hitting pedestrians. Although there shouldn’t be an increase in accidents because of pay cuts I believe there will be as experienced drivers are replaced with cheaper ones.

    A disaster waiting to happen.

  8. Saint Vincent 8

    You’re correct that the state is not managing the provision of the service as well as it could, but the reality is that this is a dying service

    It will be replaced by automated battery powered vehicles within ten years. Like Uber, sans drivers.

  9. Chris Stuart 9

    Wellington buses need to be regarded as essential social services and as such be brought under the remit of government.

    When the crap hits the fan and the weather turns to crap, Wellingtonians turn to buses to get them to work.

    Having drivers that have well paid and highly valued jobs will do nothing but enhance the reputation as Wellington being the Best Little City in the world.

    Lets not tarnish that reputation by trying to shave a few dollars of the bottom line.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Justice Minister represents New Zealand at Berlin nuclear disarmament summit
    Justice Minister Andrew Little will travel to Berlin tomorrow to represent New Zealand at a high-level summit on nuclear disarmament. This year, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) celebrates 50 years since it entered into force. “New Zealand’s proud record and leadership on nuclear disarmament is unwavering, so it’s important we are present ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Prime Minister to visit Fiji and Australia
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will visit two of New Zealand’s most important Pacific partners, Fiji and Australia, next week. The visit to Fiji will be the first by a New Zealand Prime Minister in four years and comes during the 50th anniversary of Fijian independence and diplomatic relations between our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Next steps in Criminal Cases Review Commission announced
    Justice Minister Andrew Little and New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball, have today announced the appointment of the Chief Commissioner of the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), the location, and the membership of the Establishment Advisory Group. Colin Carruthers QC has been appointed Chief Commissioner of the CCRC for an ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Horticultural Ahuwhenua Trophy finalists announced
    Māori Development Minister Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Agriculture Minister Hon Damien O’Connor co-announced the first horticultural finalists for the Ahuwhenua Trophy celebrating excellence in the Māori agricultural sector.  The three finalists are Ngai Tukairangi Trust from Mt Maunganui, Otama Marere Trust from Tauranga, and Hineora Orchard Te Kaha 15B Ahuwhenua ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New support for students with dyslexia
    A new kete of resources to strengthen support for students with dyslexia will provide extra tools for the new Learning Support Coordinators (LSCs) as they start in schools, Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin announced today. The Minister launched the kete in Wellington this morning, at the first of three induction ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Rental reforms progress to select committee stage
    The Government continues to make progress on a fairer and more secure rental market for renters and landlords with the First Reading of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill and its referral to the Social Services and Community Select Committee.  “Now is the opportunity for landlords, tenants and others who want ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Papua New Guinea Prime Minister to visit New Zealand
    Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Hon James Marape will visit New Zealand from 21-25 February, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced today. “New Zealand and Papua New Guinea have a warm and friendly relationship. I look forward to welcoming Prime Minister Marape here and strengthening the relationship between our two countries,” ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Free school lunches served up to thousands
    Thousands of children have begun receiving a free lunch on every day of the school week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. The Government’s free and healthy school lunch programme is under way for 7,000 students at 31 schools in Hawke’s Bay / Tairāwhiti and Bay of Plenty / Waiariki, extending ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Social Wellbeing Agency replaces Social Investment Agency with new approach
    The Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni today announced a new approach that continues to broaden the Government’s social sector focus from a narrow, investment approach to one centred on people and wellbeing. Minister Sepuloni said redefining the previous approach to social investment by combining science, data and lived experience ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government to strengthen protections for whistleblowers
    The Government is strengthening the Protected Disclosures Act to provide better protection for whistle blowers, Minister of State Services Chris Hipkins said today. “The Protected Disclosures Act is meant to encourage people to speak up about serious wrongdoing in the workplace and protect them from losing their jobs or being ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • PM speech at Parliamentary Chinese New Year celebration 2020
    Nǐn hǎo (Hello in Mandarin). Xīn Nián Kuài Lè (Happy New Year in Mandarin) Néi Hóu (Hello in Cantonese). Sun Nin Fai Lok (Happy New Year in Cantonese) Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Thank you for your invitation to attend this celebration today. I would like to acknowledge ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • IPANZ Annual Address
    Kia ora. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa. Nau mai haere mai ki te Whare Pāremata. E ngā mana whenua ki tēnei rohe Taranaki Whānui, Te Upoko o Te Ika, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa – kei te mihi, kei te mihi, kei te mihi. E ngā mana, e ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • 2020 IPANZ Annual Address
    Kia ora. Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa. Nau mai haere mai ki te Whare Pāremata. E ngā mana whenua ki tēnei rohe Taranaki Whānui, Te Upoko o Te Ika, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Raukawa – kei te mihi, kei te mihi, kei te mihi. E ngā mana, e ngā ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tougher penalties for gun crime a step closer
    Tougher penalties for gun crime are a step closer with the passage of firearms reform legislation through another stage in Parliament. The Arms Legislation Bill has tonight passed its Second Reading. “The changes have one objective - to prevent firearms falling into the wrong hands,” said Police Minister Stuart Nash. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Arms Legislation Bill: Second Reading
    Introduction Mr Speaker We all know why we are here today. It has been a long journey. The journey did not actually begin on 15 March 2019. It began on 30 June 1997. Almost 23 years ago, Justice Sir Thomas Thorp told us what was wrong with our firearms legislation. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New era for vocational education
    The Government’s work to put trades and vocational education back on the agenda took another major step forward today with the passing of the Education (Vocational Education and Training Reform) Amendment Bill, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is a watershed day for trades and vocational education. These law changes formalise ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Bill to Amend the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Act
    Speeding up the return of Christchurch regeneration activities to local leadership is behind the Greater Christchurch Regeneration Amendment Bill introduced to Parliament today by Minister Megan Woods. “As we approach nine years since the February 2011 earthquake in Canterbury, and with the transition to local leadership well underway, the time ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Milford Track to partly reopen after storm damage
    Hundreds of New Zealanders and international visitors will be able to get back out into nature with the Milford Track partially reopening next week, after extensive assessments and repairs, the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage announced today. The popular Great Walk has been closed since 3 February after an extreme ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government drives low-emissions transport momentum
    Up to 110 new EV chargers nationwide in cities and regions 50 electric vehicles for ride-sharing The Government is helping deliver more infrastructure and options for low emissions transport through new projects, Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods says. Tauranga, Nelson, Levin, New Plymouth and Oamaru are just some ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Kiwis better off under Coalition Government
    New Zealanders are increasingly better off under this Government as wages rise and families have more disposable income, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. Stats NZ reported today that average household disposable incomes after housing costs rose 4.9% in 2019. This was the highest rise in four years and came as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Another step towards restoring rights for screen production workers
    All New Zealanders need to have their voices heard at work to ensure we have an inclusive and productive economy. Today we introduce a Bill to do this for workers in the New Zealand screen industry, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says. “The Screen Industry Workers Bill will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Enhanced Taskforce Green for Southland and South Otago
    The Government has announced further help for the Southland and Otago regions to speed up recovery efforts from the floods.  “I’ve approved Enhanced Taskforce Green (ETFG), making $500,000 available to help with the clean-up in Fiordland, Southland, and the Clutha district in Otago,” Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni said.  ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Employers and Industry take the lead to connect students to vocational education
    Following the announcement that more than 340 schools will be funded to run events promoting vocational education, the Government has announced it will fund a further 257 events to be run by employers and industry. “These industry-run events will allow more than 30,000 students to connect with more than 2,000 ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Rental reforms a step closer with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill
    Today the Government is making progress on a fairer and more secure rental market for renters and landlords with the introduction of the Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill in Parliament.  “This Bill includes a series of reforms to improve the wellbeing of the 609,700 households that live in rented homes, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Biosecurity Minister announces world first eradication of pea weevil
    A Government programme to wipe out pea weevil has achieved a world first, with Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor today announcing the successful eradication of the noxious pest from Wairarapa. This means the nearly four-year ban on pea plants and pea straw was lifted today. Commercial and home gardeners can again grow ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Temporary Accommodation Service activated for Southland flooding
    Southland residents hit by flooding caused by heavy rainfall can now access help finding temporary accommodation with the Government activating the Temporary Accommodation Service, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare announced today. “The Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) has been activated by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to help ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Bridges: Over-hyped and under-delivered
    “Is that it?” That’s Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s response to Simon Bridges’ much-hyped economic speech today. “Simon Bridges just gave the most over-hyped and under-delivered speech that I can remember during my time in politics,” Grant Robertson said. “It’s not surprising. Simon Bridges literally said on the radio this morning ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police to trial eye in the sky in Christchurch
    A trial deployment of the Police Eagle helicopter in Christchurch will test whether the aircraft would make a significant difference to crime prevention and community safety. “The Bell 429 helicopter will be based in Christchurch for five weeks, from 17 February to 20 March,” said Police Minister Stuart Nash. “The ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Momentum of trade talks continues with visits to promote Pacific and Middle East links
    The Government has kept up the pace of its work to promote New Zealand’s trade interests and diversify our export markets, with visits to Fiji and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker. Building momentum to bring the PACER Plus trade and development agreement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Coalition Govt’s investment in Customs nets record drugs haul: 3 tonnes stopped at borders in 2019
    The Coalition Government’s investment in a strong border and disrupting transnational organised crime produced record results for stopping drugs in 2019, says Minister of Customs Jenny Salesa. The illegal drugs were seized at the New Zealand border by Customs, and overseas by Customs’ international border partners before the drugs could ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Separated scenic cycleway starts
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today kicked off construction of a separated cycleway alongside Tamaki Drive. A two-way separated cycleway will be built along the northern side of Tamaki Drive, between the Quay Street Cycleway extension and Ngapipi Road. There will be a separate walking path alongside. Phil Twyford said giving ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Earthquake-Prone Building loan scheme: eligibility criteria announced
    Owner-occupiers of unit and apartments living in earthquake-prone buildings will have certainty about the financial support they’ll be eligible for with the release of criteria for an upcoming assistance scheme, Minister for Building and Construction Jenny Salesa says. The Residential Earthquake-Prone Building Financial Assistance Scheme will help unit owners facing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Travel restrictions to remain in place as coronavirus precaution
    Temporary restrictions on travel from China will remain in place as a precautionary measure to protect against the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The restrictions which prevent foreign nationals travelling from, or transiting through, mainland China from entering New Zealand have been extended for a further 8 days. This position ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Over $1 million to help Tairāwhiti youth into employment
    Employment Minister Willie Jackson announced today that Tairāwhiti rangatahi will benefit from an investment made by the Government’s He Poutama Rangatahi (HPR) scheme. The funding will go to the Tautua Village, Kauneke programme and the Matapuna Supported Employment Programme which will fund 120 rangatahi over two years. “Both programmes work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • School attendance has to improve
    All parents and caregivers need to ensure that their children go to school unless they are sick, Associate Education Minister Tracey Martin said today. “The school attendance results for 2019 show, across the board, a drop in the number of students going to school regularly,” the Minister says. “Apart from ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Crown and Moriori sign a Deed of Settlement
    A Deed of Settlement agreeing redress for historical Treaty claims has been signed by the Crown and Moriori at Kōpinga Marae on Rēkohu (Chatham Islands) today, Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations Andrew Little has announced. Moriori have a tradition of peace that extends back over 600 years. This settlement ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Waikato Expressway driving towards completion
    Transport Minister Phil Twyford today with Māori King Tuheitia Pōtatau Te Wherowhero VII officially opened the country’s newest road, the $384 million Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway. The 15km four-lane highway with side and central safety barriers takes State Highway 1 east of Huntly town, across lowlands and streams ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • 3400 New Zealanders treated in first year of new hepatitis C treatment
    The rapid uptake of life-saving new hepatitis C medicine Maviret since it was funded by PHARMAC a year ago means the elimination of the deadly disease from this country is a realistic goal, Health Minister David Clark says. Hepatitis C is a blood-borne virus which attacks the liver, proving fatal ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Kaupapa Māori approach for homelessness
      Kaupapa Māori will underpin the Government’s new plan to deal with homelessness announced by the Prime Minister in Auckland this morning. “Māori are massively overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness, so, to achieve different outcomes for Māori, we have to do things very differently,” says the Minister of Māori Development ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government steps up action to prevent homelessness
    1000 new transitional housing places delivered by end of year to reduce demand for emergency motel accommodation. Introduce 25% of income payment, after 7 days, for those in emergency motel accommodation to bring in line with other forms of accommodation support. Over $70m extra to programmes that prevents those at ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago