Bus drivers take 'significant' first step to improve pay and conditions

Bus drivers take 'significant' first step to improve pay and conditions

Fair Pay Agreements - they divided political opinion when the Labour Government pushed legislation through late last year. 

It's a system that allows non-unionised sectors to band together and collectively negotiate for better pay. 

Wednesday marks a milestone in this new law. Bus drivers have been given the green light to negotiate New Zealand’s first-ever initiation of a Fair Pay Agreement [FPA].

Speaking with Lloyd Burr on Wednesday afternoon, President of New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, Richard Wagstaff, said this is a very exciting and "significant" first step.

"They really have been under the cosh for a long time, keeping us moving, and we think they need a reasonable rate of pay and conditions," Wagstaff said.

"[They're] looking forward to getting round the table and saying, let's be the first to do this and set a minimum standard for an industry that is a group of essential workers."

Wagstaff said the FPA will make the bussing industry more attractive and hopefully alleviate their current shortage of drivers.

"A lot of employers are saying we need to lift our industry up a bit so it's more attractive but we can't do it while there are no standards," he said.

"Everybody has to be employed at least on the rates of the FPA, if not better… And the FPA will have in it things like wages, hours of work, health and safety, training, things like that, so it'll be a base rate. 

"The key to them [FPA] is nobody will be able to come into the bus industry and tender for a bus service off the council with lower rates of pay than the FPA and that's the trouble we've been having up until now."

When asked if that means the cost of bus services will go up, Wagstaff said there is only a slight possibility fares will increase.

"We don't think it'll be a significant factor," he said. 

"We're not looking at 50 percent pay rises, we're just looking at setting standards to stop the pressure going down on bus drivers."

Listen to the full interview between Richard Wagstaff and Lloyd Burr above.

You can also download the full interview on the Lloyd Burr Live podcast, and listen on the go. 

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