Weekly column by Kāpiti's Greater Wellington Regional Council representative Penny Gaylor.
In the past couple of weeks I've had some emails from Kāpiti Coast residents concerned about the (then) pending bus drivers strike and then NZ Bus company's lockout that happened in the Wellington city public bus network.
I can assure everyone we at GWRC were also concerned, so I thought I'd share a bit of information from our perspective.
I'm mindful that drivers and the employer are around the negotiation table (as I write) and working on the resolution.
As we said ahead of the planned strike action: "Both parties are working with us regarding our offer of mediation and we hope that this action will bring them closer together and towards a satisfactory outcome to avoid more uncertainty and cancellations for passengers."
Then came NZ Bus' announcement of a continuous lockout of Tramways Union members from 4am Saturday, April 24.
The lockout would have meant Tramways Union members would not have been able to report for driver duties unless they accepted NZ Bus' most recent offer.
NZ Bus' lockout announcement was to come into effect following a 24-hour period of industrial action after a breakdown in collective agreement negotiations between operator NZ Bus and the Tramways Union, which represents drivers.
Echoing councillors' views, Scott Gallacher, general manager for Metlink, issued a statement that the lockout call was deeply disappointing and surprising.
He added: "We had been working constructively with both parties on a way forward and just this morning we had commitment from NZ Bus that they would attend a mediation process facilitated by Metlink. We are very concerned about the real impact this will have on thousands of passengers who will be left without services."
As I said, everyone is now back around the table negotiating, that's great to hear.
Only a few weeks prior to this, GWRC's transport committee (which I'm on) voted to extend our existing organisational policy of paying the living wage to all our employees and support that the living wage is paid to all bus drivers.
It is important to note this current issue relates to only the NZ Bus routes.
The majority of our services around the region were unaffected as other companies such as Uzabus, which operates in the Kāpiti Coast, have existing, previously negotiated contracts with drivers.