Sunday, 28 September 2008

Bus Drivers

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.


Hugh said...

I was going to say... I wouldn't describe ending the lockout as 'crumbling', sadly, particularly when the drivers appear to have ended their strike action, and when the company retains the option to strike.

I have hopes, though, that this high-profile strike action may cause people in other industries to start thinking of strikes as a viable tool.

Anna said...

The bus drivers have my complete support. The idea of anyone trying to struggle through life at Wellington prices on $12.something an hour is dreadful.

heather said...

sure thats low for Wellington prices . but think about the men and women who look after our parents and grandparents in resthomes and hospitals. That's a hard job!

Carol said...

With this issue in mind, it's worth looking at a post on Idiot/Savant's blog today. He presents a very good critical comparison between National and Labour policies and records on employment/labour legislation. Basically he concludes that National policies would be likely to restrict unions' access to workplaces, and limit their ability to represent workers over issues like the one discussed here.