New Zealand: Over 300 Wellington Bus Drivers locked out

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yuda
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Sep 24 2008 20:08
New Zealand: Over 300 Wellington Bus Drivers locked out

Over 300 Go Wellington bus drivers and workshop workers who took industrial action to protest $12.72 poverty wages will be locked out from tomorrow unless they accept the companies offer. Lockout Notice and Union media release | Workers Party: Background to Wellington Bus Lockout

Indymedia Exclusive: The company is accusing Wellington Tramways Union President Nick Kelly of stealing a bus and taking it to a union stopwork meeting.

Manufacturing and Construction Union members have joined the fight by refusing to refuel buses. Dom Post Article Wellington WP candidate Don Franks has slammed Go Wellington for treating workers like shit. "By standing up to the boss and demanding a better income the drivers are taking a stand which will benefit the whole working class."

You can support these workers by raising money for them, and attending solidarity actions. Organise your own!

Wellington: Picket details
Auckland: Thursday collection | Protest details
Aotearoa Indymedia feature

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Django
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Sep 24 2008 20:57

Yuda, this would be good as a front page news story. If you don't fancy writing it up i can.

yuda
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Sep 24 2008 22:38
Django wrote:
Yuda, this would be good as a front page news story. If you don't fancy writing it up i can.

Done, just a copy and paste job with an image attached

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Anarchia
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Sep 25 2008 00:40

For reference: The workers went on strike yesterday (Wednesday) for 2 one hour blocks in peak traffic - 7:30 - 8:30am and 4:30 - 5:30pm (I think, might be slightly off on the 2nd block). The previous day (Tuesday) they had a 4 hour stopwork meeting to discuss options. They had announced the twice daily strikes would continue for the rest of the week / until their demands were met, but after the first strike yesterday morning, the lockout notice was issued.

The fight over pay has been going on for a few months now, after Go Wellington changed the structure of the bus drivers schedules last year, reducing pay by an average of 9% and up to 19% for some drivers. Go Wellington has agreed to a 7% pay increase, which still leaves drivers below where they used to be, without even counting inflation (at around 4%).

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Anarchia
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Sep 25 2008 05:52

Lockout is over, after 1 day. The driver's will be back at work tomorrow from 5:30am, after Go Wellington agreed to go back to the negotiating table. As far as I can gather (still not much news has come out) the union hasn't withdrawn any of its demands yet (which Go Wellington had said would be a prerequisite to continued negotiations), so thats good.

I'd hazard a guess that this won't be over for a wee while yet.

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Anarchia
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Sep 28 2008 04:23

FYI, just saw this on Aotearoa Indymedia. Nick Kelly is a maoist, and member of the (originally Maoist / Trotskyist fusion, now essentially solely Maoist) Workers Party, the largest of the leninist groups in NZ.

Quote:
The Go Wellington Lockout
By Nick Kelly: Wellington Tramways Union President

As most of you know on Monday the Tramways Union (who cover the Wellington Bus drivers) and the Manufactoring and Construction Union (who represent the workshop workers) voted to reject the latest company offer. We began limited industrial action on Wednesday morning with a 1 hour strike. However before this first strike had happened the company issued and indefinate lockout notice starting 5am Thursday September 25th.
For the 1 hour strike we decided to hold a stopwork meeting at the Wellington Railway Station to discuss the lockout. Management tried to claim that the strike action we were taking was illegal. Drivers at Kilbirnie got on a couple of buses and drove to the station. The acting depot manager told me as Union President that I should tell the workers to get back to work, and that we weren't to take a bus to the rail. The workers ignored this threat and now I face some sort of retribution for disobeying "lawful instruction from my employer". The union now as a new claim that on settlement the company will drop all retribution against workers involved in the dispute.

At the meeting the workers voted to accept the lockout and unless the notice was lifted maintain a picket of the Kilbirnie depot until management came out and offered us an offer workers could accept. This meeting was held at rush hour in the middle of Wellington station - and got alot of public support.

By 7pm on Wednesday night secruity guards were all over the depot and a temporary fense was put up along the front of the depot.

Before 5am the locked out workers formed a picketline outside the depot. The half a dozen controllers at Go Wellington who are all RMTU members were told by their union not to cross the picketline. None of them did, and as a result they also were locked out. These workers are also currently in pay talks that are not going well. Controllers are the ones who coordinate the city's bus system. Whilst they don't have the power to hire and fire they do allocate extra work and generally act as middle management at the depot. By locking these workers out management very effectively united the controllers with the drivers and workshops members.

Not a single worker attempted to cross the picket line. To the best of my knowledge not a single driver scabed.

I was a bit worried having only taken over as union President 20 days earlier having to run the picket line - when many of the workers had never taken industrial action before (the last time was 1996). I had no need to worry, I found that the workers very quickly rose to the challenge of running a picketline, devided up the work needed. I was very proud of my fellow union members, many of whom were prepared to stay on the picket line for the duration.
We had begun organising for the longhaul, getting WINZ to come talk to workers about getting the special benefit (which you can get if you are locked out) and getting store credit at the local Pak 'n' Save.

Joel and Heleyni stayed up till 4am the night before making banners and designing the stickers for the picket line. By 7am they were at the picket with the signs and stickers both of which were very popular. Don walked through town with a placard in support of the drivers. WP members have come accross as strong leaders and have earned considerable respect of the picketing drivers.

After a day of no buses the heat went on Go Wellington. The public were blaming the company, and the management lies to the media were too obvious and not working. The city council were getting pissed off, as apparently was Annette King (local MP and Transport minister). By 4pm the Wellington Chamber of Commerce was putting the hard word on the company to lift the lockout and get the buses going - as Wellington business was losing millions.

I announced to the picket line at 5pm that we had won a battle and forced the company to lift the lockout. Whilst drivers were happy, many also were disappointed as they were really getting into the picket and were prepared to go the long haul and teach the bosses a lesson.

Since then we have had a brief mediation, and will have an all day one on Monday. If the company don't come up with the money on Monday it will be back to the picketlines.

Rumour was that some Auckland drivers and controllers had been flown down to scab on us for early next week. The company denied this in front of the mediator on Friday. We have been told that by the Auckland Tramways Union if scabs are flown down from Auckland they will look at walking off the job - and they are having a delegates meeting on Tuesday to discuss this issue.

The fight is still on. But so far the drivers have done themselves proud.

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Anarchia
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Oct 9 2008 11:08
Quote:
Wellington Bus drivers ratify offer
Wednesday, 8 October 2008, 10:28 am
Press Release: Wellington Tramways Union

Wellington Tramways Union media release

7 October 2008

Wellington Bus drivers ratify offer

Wellington Tramways Union members at Go Wellington have voted to accept a two-year pay deal which includes increases of 7.5% and 3.5% for the first and second year respectively and a $300 one-off payment.

The deal is an improvement on the company offer that sparked industrial action and a lock-out late last month and saw Wellington commuters left stranded for two days.

Wellington Tramways Union secretary Kevin O'Sullivan says the deal is a step forward for union members.

"By taking industrial action our members pushed the company to a higher rate than their original final offer and over the next two years that's going to mean more money in their pockets to support their families and weather the increased cost of living.

"This increase goes onto all our members' allowances as well as their base rate which means they'll see decent increases in their shift allowances and tea allowances as well as their hourly wage."

The Wellington Tramways Union represents over 300 bus driver on the Go Wellington network.

ENDS

This deal gives the drivers a 11% increase overall, meaning that many will still be below where they used to be before Go Wellington changed the rules regarding shifts (see my comment a bit above). And that's not counting inflation either.

It is certainly a lot higher than the average rises we've seen in recent times though.