Bus passengers can ride for free in Hamilton from Monday as Go Bus drivers take partial strike action.

The bus service will operate as normal but more than 120 drivers from First Union will not be accepting money for the ride.

A notice of the intended industrial action.
A notice of the intended industrial action.

First Union spokesperson Jared Abbott said bus drivers were taking action to send a message to the Waikato Regional Council and the bus company.

"We've been in negotiations for over two years now. The company are offering as little as 1.5 per cent to settle the agreement. None of these drivers are paid a living wage, they're all below it."


Go Bus chief operating officer Nigel Piper said buses would be operating as normal on Monday and customers should pay the fare.

He said Go Bus had received no formal notification from the union about industrial action on Monday.

"They're required to give us notice and they haven't done so yet. Until we get the required notice we won't be able to form any view on what's happening.

"We're in facilitated bargaining with the union and we've got the third one scheduled in just over a week's time.

"I'm not really able to discuss anything further outside of that, out of respect for the process. Facilitated bargaining is supposed to be confidential and we aren't really able to say anything further."

Piper said he was unable to comment on the bus drivers claim for a living wage, which was currently set at $20.55 per hour, $4.05 more than the minimum wage set by the Government.

Abbott said the union had sent an initial strike notice for three weeks, but this may be extended.

He said declining to collect fares as industrial action was very popular with the public and drivers were already getting good feedback.

He urged passengers to support the drivers' cause.

"Don't try and force payment onto the drivers. They won't be handling the money. If people are using Busit cards, don't charge your Busit card.

"And obviously showing your support to the bus drivers would be awesome."

Go Bus was contracted to run the bus service by the Waikato Regional Council.

Council chairman of the transport committee Russ Rimmington said the living wage was not included in the council contract to Go Bus.

"Waikato Regional Council has not got the appetite to put more money up because we have an annual plan process that we've budgeted.

"My personal sympathies are with the drivers but, actually, we are obliged to stick with what our Waikato Regional Council has contracted for," he said.