Yesterday Infratil got their NZ Bus hand-puppets to announce that they will be going on strike. On Wednesday, if the bus-drivers refuse to donate their time freely to increase Infratil returns to investors, the company will remove bus-services from the commuters of Auckland.
If the reasonable attempts of the bus drivers to increase their wages by a few more percent above the minimum wage and inflation are not stopped then the managers of Infratil may fail to met their objectives:-
Infratil’s goal is a 20% per annum after tax return to shareholders over the long term.
Of course the bonuses for the managers are conditional on hitting those targets. So the managers are effectively striking for more pay.
They could instead concentrate on upgrading their performance, for instance with the piss-poor maintenance on their buses as was pointed out on Target last week. It isn’t only the disabled ramps that are poorly maintained. In the last week mechanical difficulties have caused me to get off buses twice. However that would involve hard work and expenditure on the part of the Infratil managers. It is easier to spend more money on PR people who don’t actually rub the managers noses in how poor their work is.
Infratil posted yesterday morning at transport hubs that this was a strike by the unions. That is a blatant lie. But I see from the media that they are repeating the stupidity. Such is the nature of PR driven journalism.
Granny Herald is for once actually telling the story like it is – a lockout. What the unions have said is that bus-drivers should work exactly to the existing contract, ie work-to-rule.
Infratil’s managers must be total fuckwits if they think this is spinnable. Increasing numbers of Aucklanders are using the public transport. I’ll assume that like me, they’re generally impressed with the bus drivers (the usual few dorks aside). I think that they are worth more than a few bucks per hour above the minimum wage.
We sure as hell will not appreciate Infratil locking the workers (and us) out. Especially when the bus-drivers merely wish to work to the exact terms and conditions of the existing contract. That doesn’t sound like Infratil are bargaining in good faith. It is more like someone is trying to push an agenda.
Since we’re paying the bill both in fares and in subsidies, I’d suggest that Infratil’s infantile managers learn what good faith is in a hurry. Public transport is one of the core services of the city. Even that idiot Local Government Minister Rodney Hide thinks that – transport is in his list of core services. It costs too much in roading costs, road congestion, and requirements for parking to live without a good public transport system.
Unlike many of the writers here, I’m generally loath to have anything in public ownership that doesn’t need to be there. But if public transport has to go back into public hands to ensure a good service, then that is what will happen. I’m sure that the costs of it being a public service are probably cheaper than trying to hit a 20% rate of return. Especially as use of public transport is increasing requiring a bigger fleet, and somehow I can’t see Infratil wanting to expend capital to get it.