Metlink, Unions & Bus Firms Get Into Top Gear On Living Wage

Metlink, Unions and Bus Operators are co-operating to bring in the Living Wage for bus drivers across the Wellington Region.

Scott Gallacher, Metlink General Manager, says a proposal to Greater Wellington’s Meeting later this month, would see Greater Wellington and Waka Kotahi provide funding to bus operators to bridge the gap between wages now and the Living Wage ($22.10).

He says it’s a first step towards a talks on terms and conditions for the whole of the Metlink workforce.

“We want all our drivers to have pride in what they do and a part of that is rewarding and recognising people appropriately,” he says.

“This move, quite rightly, focuses on bus drivers and the essential part they play in keeping our region moving every day.  We are incredibly lucky to have some of the most amazing and committed people working across the Metlink network,” says Gallacher.

Metlink has been working with Transport Minister Michael Wood, Waka Kotahi, unions and bus operators to usher in the changes to base rates to reflect the Living Wage now and in the future.

Minister takes the lead

“We want to acknowledge the strong leadership and clear direction that Minister Wood has set for us on the Living Wage.

We are firmly focused on addressing the Living Wage gap for our drivers and Minister Wood has been instrumental in enabling us to move forward on this front,” says Scott Gallacher.

Half the drivers will benefit directly

Terms and conditions for bus drivers are set by each of Metlink’s four bus operators. Around half of Metlink’s bus drivers will directly benefit from the move to a Living Wage as a base rate.

Kevin O’Sullivan, NZ Tramways & Public Passenger Transport Employees Union Secretary, welcomes the proposal and says the move is a necessary step to retaining and attracting drivers.

“Driving a bus is a respectable and demanding career with huge variety –and good opportunities ( to progress) — but there is competition from other industries for skilled drivers.

“This is about doing the right thing for hard-working drivers. It’s also about attracting new drivers with a transparent base rate.

“Getting the Living Wage also helps address some of the damage done by the introduction of the Public Transport Operating Model (PTOM) in 2013,” says Kevin O’Sullivan.

In terms of funding, Greater Wellington and Waka Kotahi will essentially top up (PTOM) bus driver base rates to bring them in line with the Living Wage which is currently set at $22.10.

More details around the proposal will be available when Metlink presents its paper on the Living Wage at Greater Wellington’s Council Meeting on March 25.

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