Wellington NZ Bus lockout: Employment Court rules in favour of drivers

By RNZ

The Employment Court has ordered NZ Bus to let drivers back into work, following a lockout notice served this week.

About 100 NZ Bus employees in Wellington walked off the job yesterday, in what was supposed to be a one-day strike following a break down in pay negotiations.

But their employer retaliated with a lockout notice, and the union applied to the court for an injunction.

After a court hearing today, Judge Bruce Corkill has issued an interim injunction against the lockout, ruling that there is an arguable case the lockout notices do not comply with the Employment Relations Act.

“In assessing overall justice, I take into account the interest of the public, who are affected by a lockdown which is open-ended, in the sense that it will end only when the third plaintiff accepts the offer for a new collective agreement as advanced by the defendants.

“The plaintiffs are accordingly entitled to the interim relief they seek.”

Judge Corkill said he had been told that while bus services may resume tomorrow, they could be “incomplete and uncertain”, and normal services should resume on Monday.

“I am also advised that the parties are being invited to attend a private mediation process next week. I strongly urge them to engage in that process in good faith.”

The Council of Trade Unions said the decision is a huge relief for drivers.

President Richard Wagstaff said NZ Bus was “hoping to starve the bus drivers into submission with this lockout, but this decision has for now stopped them in their tracks”.

“We still need sanity to prevail and for NZ Bus to accept the offer by the council to fund an increase in base rates, leave the other important protections alone, and settle a new collective agreement.”

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