Bus services will continue as normal after union members agreed to withdraw strike action tonight. Photo / Michael Craig
Bus services will run as normal tomorrow as union members agreed to withdraw strike action in a surprise late-night decision.
The strike would have impacted about 4000 trips per day and “tens of thousands of Aucklanders”, according to Auckland Transport (AT).
Earlier this evening, it said all NZ Bus services were going to be suspended from 2am tomorrow.
This would have put more than a third of the bus services out of action, causing immense pressure on the public transport system with the upcoming All Blacks v Springboks test match at Go Media Stadium (Mt Smart) and the return of schools next week.
NZ Bus CEO Calum Haslop said drivers turning off their ticketing systems today forced it to suspend all drivers without pay participating in this action and suspend its bus services while the strike notice remained in force.
Tramways and First Union have now agreed with withdrawing strike action, meaning bus services will recommence.
Auckland Transport executive general manager of public transport services Stacey van der Putten said this will be a massive relief for bus commuters around Auckland.
“I want to thank NZ Bus and representatives from Tramways and First Union for bringing what would have been a significant period of disruption and uncertainty for Aucklanders to an end,” Putten said.
“If the suspension of NZ Bus services or strike action had continued next week it would have affected up to 4000 bus trips each weekday, disrupting the daily commutes of tens of thousands of Aucklanders, including thousands of school children.”
Bargaining negotiations will continue between NZ Bus, Tramways and First Union next week, but for now, Auckland commuters will be unaffected.
It came after a week of strikes that affected thousands of commuters as union drivers walked off the job between 4am and 8am.
First Union organiser Hayley Courtney said about 700 drivers had taken part in the action across both unions.
Courtney said to suspend the union members, NZ Bus would have to do this with each member individually. Since this could be a long process, she didn’t know how many people it would affect.
Previously, Haslop slammed union members for the elevation in strike action today, calling them “disingenuous and incredibly unhelpful”.
“Within hours of agreeing to undertake facilitated bargaining yesterday, the unions then issued a further strike notice that includes drivers refusing to sign on to AT’s bus tracking and ticketing system,” Haslop said.
“This action would result in a material breach of our contracts with AT and create significant health and safety issues across the wider network.”