An Auckland bus company is pleading with its disgruntled drivers not to make NCEA students the victims of industrial action.
Over 100 bus drivers from East Tamaki and Airport Go Bus depots are striking for 24 hours from 4am tomorrow, after weeks of partial industrial action.
The full day strike coincides with high school students entering their second full day of NCEA exams.
Go Bus said it had enough drivers to ensure students on its buses get to exams on time, but the behaviour of striking union members would dictate if this could be done safely, Go Bus Transport HR director Kura Poulava said.
"Everyone needs to consider the potential consequences of their actions, particularly as students are sitting exams which are critical to their future," she said.
"These young people are the tamariki and mokopuna of their communities, and may even be their own whānau, who have worked all year toward their goal of exams.
"We believe it would be selfish of striking drivers to put their interests ahead of a group of young people by thwarting their efforts to take the exams."
The company respected the rights of union members to strike, but asked them to refrain from any actions that would negatively impact student sitting such important exams, Poulava said.
But union members did not want to cause any disruptions, First Union's Secretary for Transport, Operations, Logistics and Manufacturing Jared Abbott said.
Bus routes around East Tamaki and South Auckland will be affected by tomorrow's strike of 110 drivers, he said.
Abbott said he had not received feedback that students were missing exams because of strike action.
He apologised to members of the public who may be disrupted by tomorrow's strike and recommended they find alternate transport.
"We're asking passengers to be patient and empathetic, bearing in mind that strike action like tomorrow's is the absolute last resort for bus drivers."
Drivers were left with no other option after relations with the company reached a new low, Abbott said.
"These drivers tried peaceful strike action and were met with arbitrary suspensions that targeted union delegates and anyone else holding out for fair wage bargaining."
"Both Go Bus and Auckland Transport have tried to pit drivers against the public, which is irresponsible and disingenuous - none of them have taken these actions lightly, and they care about their jobs and their passengers," he said.
Abbott said he'd like to see Auckland Transport get involved in the negotiations and take some responsibility.
Auckland Transport would not comment on the situation, as the drivers were employed by an independent company, spokesman Mark Hannan said.
Auckland Transport confirmed there may be delays and cancellations to some Go Bus services tomorrow due to the strike.
"All school bus services are expected to run as planned. Go Bus and Auckland Transport are working closely to ensure all trips are covered."
More than 13,000 trips are scheduled tomorrow by Auckland Transport, and less than 1 per cent of these will be affected by industrial action.
Train and ferry services will not be affected.
Union members were allegedly driven at by their managers in an attempt to dissolve the road blockade they created in yesterday morning's strike, a claim denied by the company.
School bus routes were among those impacted, enraging the father of an Edgewater College student who was sitting an NCEA exam.