Th' />

Auckland bus drivers and their employers are set to take a week's break from contract talks after failing to resolve their wage dispute today.

The 900 drivers employed by NZ Bus, the biggest bus providers in Auckland, were back at work today after the company lifted a lockout which kept them off the roads for seven days.

Talks conducted through an Employment Relations Authority facilitator had continued through most of the lockout and were back on again today as they tried to reach an end to their five-month dispute.

NZ Bus communications manager Siobhan O'Donovan said the talks had ended for the day and would resume on Friday week, October 23.

Ms O'Donovan said no deal had been reached, and both parties were bound not to say anything to media about discussions or any offers on the table.

She said no further industrial action had been threatened.

"The important thing is that the buses are back on the road."

NZ Bus locked out its drivers last Thursday after they said they would work strictly to the rule book.

The action forced 80,000 commuters onto buses run by other companies, trains or into their cars, and about 9000 students had to find alternative transport to get to and from school.

The four unions representing the drivers had rejected the company offer of a pay rise totalling $1.80 an hour in three instalments over three years but the union wanted the increase over 29 months and an increase in their overtime rate.

NZ Bus lost $1.1 million in subsidies from the Auckland Regional Transport Authority for failing to deliver on its contract and provide bus services. Drivers and cleaners were believed to have lost a similar amount.

The drivers are paid between $14.05 and $16.75 an hour.

- NZPA