Tramways Union members have voted in favour of strike action following what they say is a complete and irreparable breakdown in pay negotiations with NZ Bus.
More than 250 bus services were cancelled in Wellington today while drivers attended a stop-work meeting to consider the company's pay offer.
Union members voted in favour of industrial action in a secret ballot.
Bus passengers faced disruption to their travel between 9am and 3pm. All off-peak services on Wellington city routes 2, 3, 12, 14, 18e, 20, 21, 22, 30x, 31x, 81, 83 and 84 were cancelled during this time.
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It's understood NZ Bus 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 earlier said the company's offer was a good deal.
"We support the moves for all drivers in the Wellington region to be paid the living wage of $22.10. In addition, under the terms we are proposing all our drivers would immediately be paid a base hourly rate of $23.75. It also provides a path to $25 an hour in two years.
"We are also proposing to keep penal rates for drivers working in excess of 40 hours a week and when working rostered days off. This collective is already working well in Auckland.
A Metlink spokesperson said they were now awaiting a notice from NZ Bus when industrial action might occur.
Typically unions were required to give operators 24 hours' notice, they said.
"Metlink is strongly encouraging both parties to resume negotiations and has offered to provide mediation services to bring the parties together and come to a satisfactory outcome to avoid more uncertainty and cancellations for passengers."