Monday, November 24, 2008

Hamilton bus drivers locked out for planning to offer passengers free fares.

The Hamilton bus company Go Bus has locked out 50 drivers after they took strike action for 24 hours, and were planning a fare strike on return to work.

Fare strikes have seldom been used in New Zealand, but they are a creative form of industrial action that can build public support while putting direct economic pressure on the company. This means that no passengers were to be charged for riding the bus during the strike period.

Today the law says that any alteration to normal work is a strike, so that rubs out any 'creative' work practices.

The company imposed a lockout once it heard a fare strike was likely and has kept the workers locked out despite the drivers withdrawing their notice of a fare strike. The drivers are paid $13.50 an hour and are seeking an increase to $16 an hour.

The drivers’ pay is well below a living wage. The Council of Trade Unions is advocating a minimum wage of $16.30, as that is two-thirds of the average wage.

Support the locked out bus drivers: gather at the Transport Centre in Hamilton at 9.30am Monday 24 November.

More media releases here.

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