Tips to manage Auckland bus strike

By Amelia Wade, Sophie Ryan

Bus drivers with NZ Bus will be taking industrial action for 24 hours from 4am on Friday. Photo / Richard Robinson
Bus drivers with NZ Bus will be taking industrial action for 24 hours from 4am on Friday. Photo / Richard Robinson

• Employers should make a plan for Friday, when 70 per cent of Auckland's buses won't be running.
• Staff should work from home if allowed and possible.
• Start conversations with co-workers who live in similar area, would carpooling be possible?
• Investigate train, ferry and bicycle options.
• Bosses must be flexible.

Anyone planning to catch a bus in Auckland on Friday is being advised to come up with another form of transport and let the boss know their is a high chance they will be late to work.

Bus drivers with NZ Bus will be taking industrial action for 24 hours from 4am on Friday.

Drivers for Howick & Eastern bus services are also set to take a break, in a separate dispute, from 5.30am on Friday until 5.30am the next day.

In total, the services that will be affected are: Go West, North Star, Metrolink, Waka Pacific, CityLink, InnerLink, OuterLink, Howick & Eastern and school runs operated by NZ Bus.

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Auckland Transport's bus services manager, Brendon Main, encouraged the travelling public to plan a different mode of transport or to expect delays.

"We are sorry, but services will be limited on Friday. The roads will be busy and there will be delays.

"People should consider options such as travelling outside peak times, sharing rides, cycling or walking. People should also talk to their employer about their work situation on Friday."

Other bus, train and ferry services will operate as normal, Auckland Transport said.

Members of the public are encouraged to contact the Auckland Transport call centre or visit its website to check if other bus services are available in their area, before making travelling plans.

First Union organiser Rudd Hughes said more than 100 drivers from Howick and Eastern Buses would be walking off the job on Friday.

"The drivers have consistently told the company they do not want claw-backs. However, the management team has refused to listen."

Mr Hughes said the company received millions of dollars from Auckland Transport. It was clear, he said, management was using public money to bring down driver wages.

"All the drivers are asking for is to maintain their conditions and not have their earnings cut," he said.

"Given that Howick and Eastern increased their profits by 8 per cent last year and their owner, Sir Brian Souter, is a billionaire -- it is very unfair they are asking drivers to lose money."

Schools are urging students and parents to find another form of transport to class.

Auckland Transport yesterday sent a notice to schools informing them exactly which school buses will be affected and asking them to use their communication methods to let parents know.

The email told schools to let parents know that they would need to arrange alternative transport for their children if their school bus will be affected.

Schools contacted by the Herald yesterday morning were initially frustrated at the lack of communication from the Auckland Council organisation.

However, about 3pm yesterday afternoon, an email had been sent to schools though some had been proactive and contacted parents on Monday night after reading about the strike in the media.

Deputy principal at Rangitoto College, Jo Yates, said they were willing to be a bit more flexible with students running late because their bus didn't show up. But she didn't anticipate there being too much disruption.

"Our library is open until 4pm and there's always lots of sports and activities after school so if it's just the one day, I can't see there being too much hassle if kids have to hang around after school a bit longer."

Mrs Yates said a lot of students walked or caught services which won't be cancelled.

And assistant principal at Howick College, Steve James, said they would also be emailing parents to let them know and suggest students take other forms of transport or make other arrangements for getting to class on Friday.

The work stoppage is expected to affect nearly 100,000 commuters.

Michael Barnett, chief executive at Auckland Chamber of Commerce, said workplaces need to make a plan for Friday's affect on business.

"First of all accept that there is going to be disruption... and talk about it internally."

Barnett said co-workers should see whether carpooling could be a possibility and where possible look into taking a train or ferry rather than a bus.

Questions needed to be raised in the workplace so a plan was in place before Friday, Barnett said.

"Are there people that could, with technology, work from home? Is it possible to start some people early and finish early and start people late and finish late? So there could be a spread of personnel without people sitting in cars for hours."

Barnett said bosses need to be flexible with their expectations of workers.

"If there is no plan and employers still have an expectation that people are going to be there on time, that's going to impose a bit of stress on the workforce unnecessarily."

Dean Kimpton, chief operating officer at Auckland Council, said employees were asked to make other travel plans on Friday during the bus strike.

Kimpton said Auckland Council would consider flexible hours for staff due to the disruption.

A spokeswoman for BNZ Bank said arrangements for staff affected by the bus strike was being handled on an individual basis by personal leaders around Auckland.

More than 1,000 NZ Bus drivers and 70 Howick & Eastern drivers issued their employers with a strike notice yesterday morning and are planning to picket with placards and whistles at depots.

The strike comes after almost two months of industrial action by drivers, including a week of continuous "work to rule" action and stop-work meetings.

Initially, Auckland Transport said the live electronic information boards would still continue to be show the cancelled services but have yesterday decided that although it would be time consuming, they would be removed for the period of the strike.

Included in Auckland Transport's official advice is "not travelling".

School buses affected:

Bus services affected:

From 4am Friday 19 until 5.30am Saturday 20:
•Waka Pacific
•Most NiteRider services
•Some Howick & Eastern Buses.

For more info visit: or ring the AT call centre: (09) 366 6400.

- NZ Herald

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