NZ Bus says it has been left with no option but to issue a lock-out notice to drivers in response to strike action in Wellington tomorrow.
"The strike action by the union is very disruptive for our passengers and the union's threat of further "surprise attack strikes" means we can't guarantee the safety and reliability of our services", a company spokesperson said.
This is after the Tramways Union advised early this morning that Wellington bus drivers will be on strike for 24 hours, from 4am on Friday, affecting 26 bus services in the capital.
The NZ Bus routes affected by the strike on Friday are: 2, 3, 21, 22, 12, 12e, 13, 14, 18e, 20, 28, 30x, 31x, 33, 34, 34, 36,37,81, 83, 84, 85x, N2, N3, N8, and N88.
Last week union members voted in favour of strike action following what they said was a breakdown in pay negotiations with NZ Bus.
It's understood the company wants to move Wellington drivers to a collective agreement similar to its Auckland ones where the base rate is higher but trade-offs are made like lower penal rates.
An NZ Bus spokesperson said they were "very disappointed" at news of the strike and that "drivers and passengers would lose out as a result".
The company thought long and hard about issuing a lock out notice and regret having to take that step, they said.
"But we have no option."
The terms being offered are substantially the same as the collective agreement that already covers approximately 900 NZ Bus drivers in Auckland.
The company is offering an increased base rate of $23.75.
Penal rates would be kept for drivers working in excess of 40 hours a week and when working rostered days off.
Tramways Union Wellington secretary Kevin O'Sullivan said the notice was disgraceful and disgusting behaviour.
"I think it will just hearten our resolve to reject the proposal at this stage.
"We are absolutely determined that we are not going to take a pay cut."
O'Sullivan said the strike would continue as scheduled tomorrow and he expected buses would not be running for some time.
Metlink general manager Scott Gallacher has said they were working with the Tramways Union and NZ Bus to resume negotiations.
"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.
O'Sullivan said the union took up that offer of mediation but Greater Wellington Regional Council would now have to do more in light of the lock-out notice.
Bus services affected would be those provided by Wellington City Transport Ltd and Cityline NZ from the Kilbirnie, Karori, Kaiwharawhara and Eastbourne depots.
Gallacher said the strike would only relate to the specified NZ Bus routes.
"The majority of our services around the region will continue, unaffected. But it will have a significant impact on passengers in Wellington City.
"Until the parties come to a resolution, passengers are our main priority and we have a full range of communications across all our channels to let passengers know which routes will be affected."
Passengers could also stay up to date through the Metlink website and app.
More than 250 services were cancelled on Wednesday last week as drivers attended a stop-work meeting to consider the company's pay offer, where they voted through a secret ballot in favour of industrial action.