Last Wednesday morning, the Wellington bus drivers went on strike for an hour. GoWellington (which is owned by infratil) responded by locking the bus drivers out indefinitely and cancelling all services.
Obviously, none of this qualifies as news. As most people probably know the bus-drivers were completely solid in their resistance. As Graeme Clark said ‘People ask us how long we can go without pay; we say one day longer than they can go without buses.’ The bus drivers also had heaps of solidarity. Even though Morning report gave most time to the bosses, every single commuter they talked to supported the drivers. Unions swung into action straight away, organising solidarity meetings and collecting on the first day of the lock-out. Even in Auckland collectors raised $130 in less than an hour.
In the face of this, the bosses crumbled .
I didn’t write about it at the time, because I was too busy texting Wellington friends trying to find out what was going on – grumpy at being stuck in Auckland. I wanted to be down at the bus station; I would have even joined the picket line at ungodly hour of 5.30am (for an awesome first hand account check out Nick Kelly's on indymedia).
But I wanted to pay tribute to the strength and unity of the bus drivers, and the solidarity they received.
I also wanted to remind everyone that the struggle is not over. The lock-out has been lifted but there has been no settlement and the starting rate for Wellington bus drivers is still $12.76 an hour.