Auckland commuters could face chaos on their way to work today as 345 bus services in South and West Auckland are disrupted when bus drivers walk off the job for 24 hours.
About 100 Auckland bus drivers who are First Union members employed by Ritchies Murphy and Pavlovich are striking from 4am today until 4am tomorrow over better pay and allowances such as overtime and sick leave.
A further 100 bus drivers in Hamilton employed by Go Bus are striking between 5am and 9am.
The strike will disrupt or cancel 245 of the 940 weekday services operated by Ritchies Murphy in South Auckland and about 100 of the 964 weekday services operated by Pavlovich in West Auckland for Auckland Transport.
The routes affected in South Auckland are 372, 362, 365, 378, 377, 373, 371, 368, 376
and 33. The West Auckland routes affected are 66, 131, 132, 133, 134, 138, 141, 142, 143, 146, 152, 154, 111, 112 and 114.
All school buses will run as normal and commuters should use the AT Mobile app to find an alternative journey.
AA spokesman Barney Irvine said it would be a pretty miserable start to the short week for many Auckland commuters as affected bus users would be forced to take their cars to work.
"Auckland's transport network operates so close to capacity that even small increases to the load can have a big impact.
"As we enter the busiest equal period of the year traffic wise we certainly hope was are not going to see much more of this."
Pavlovich chief executive Bernard Pavlovich said he was "pretty much in the dark" about the union's claims.
Pavlovich said the company met its legal requirements in regards to allowances and sick leave and was not even bargaining with the union at the moment.
"As shareholders we certainly aren't in a position where we are going to start to offer allowances or working conditions that are in excess of what we have had for at least 17 years in our previous agreement with the union.
"... I don't believe the people who drive for us are particularly happy being used as pawns in what is clearly a strategic effort to get central and local government to address their concerns because it's not really the bus operators who can."
Ritchies Murphy director Andrew Ritchie said he also did not know the union's agenda.
"They serve a strike notice on us on a long weekend and all it does is inconvenience the public. What are they trying to achieve?"
Ritchie said the company had dealt with four different organisers in the past 18 months which meant they were going back to scratch each time they sat around the bargaining table.
"I've never dealt with an outfit like it. All they are doing is playing with the public and playing with the drivers so it's simply not on. It's no acceptable behaviour."
First Union divisional secretary Jared Abbott said more strikes were likely as the companies refused essentially to give drivers a pay rise.
He also said it was "rubbish" that Ritchies Murphy was not aware of the union's concerns about unfair pay and conditions.
"I simply refute that. Of course he knows about it. There are ongoing issues there all the time. We've written to them about other legal issues that haven't even been raised in the media and that. He lives in a fantasy."
Auckland Transport spokesman James Ireland said the council would continue to work through the union's issues and would also look into whether the union was allowed to issue a strike notice on a public holiday.
Employment law expert and managing partner at Dundas Street Susan Hornsby-Geluk said the union was within its rights to issue a strike notice on a public holiday.
Q + A
How many drivers are striking?
One hundred bus drivers employed by Ritchies Murphy and Pavlovich in Auckland, and 100 Go Bus drivers in Hamilton.
Why are they striking?
They want a Fair Pay Agreement introduced to limit the cuts to pay and allowances such as overtime and sick leave. They say they are overworked and cannot afford to pay their bills or go on holiday.
Where are they striking?
Auckland, 4am today to 4am tomorrow; Hamilton, 5am-9am.
How many services will be affected?
Around 245 services operated by Ritchies Murphy in South Auckland will be reduced or cancelled. Routes affected are 372, 362, 365, 378, 377, 373, 371, 368, 376. Also, around 100 services operated by Pavlovich in West Auckland will be reduced or cancelled. Routes affected are 66, 131, 132, 133, 134, 138, 141, 142, 143, 146, 152, 154, 111, 112 and 114.
This represents 3 per cent of all bus services in Auckland.
What alternative plans are in place?
Use the AT Mobile app to find an alternative route.