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All Auckland bus services reinstated in last-minute U-turn

Bus drivers at the New Lynn depot hold placards as they take strike action on Tuesday 11 July 2023.
Bus drivers at the New Lynn depot hold placards as they take strike action on Tuesday Photo: Supplied / First Union / Hayley Courtney

All NZ Bus services in Auckland will go ahead as usual today, because the drivers' union and the company have agreed at the eleventh hour to hold an emergency meeting over wages.

Bus drivers belonging to First Union had earlier said they would start giving passengers fares-free travel, and would do so for a whole week, after refusing the company's latest pay offer.

On Thursday night, NZ bus responded by announcing all its services in Tāmaki Makaurau would instead be cancelled - something the union called a "union-busting move".

Auckland Transport said that represented about 35% of the bus network, and advised passengers to check its journey planner for alternative options.

However, late on Thursday night, RNZ News was told that an emergency meeting had been scheduled for 10.30am on Friday, and the strike notice had been withdrawn.

Auckland Transport (AT) subsequently confirmed that all bus services would be running as normal.

The spokesperson for First Union, Hayley Courtney, said the organisers didn't think it was fair that commuters would have absolutely no buses running over Matariki as a result of the company's actions.

"It's such a big weekend happening, and the public deserve to have the public transport going to and from the events.

"But not just that; we're trying to get a good discussion and hopefully settlement out of the company and AT."

She said she wasn't yet sure what the discussions would look like, but "we'd like the company and AT to work pragmatically with the union so we can all move on peacefully".

The latest pay offer that the drivers have rejected is for $31 an hour, rising to $33.20 from next April.

Ms Courtney said members saw it as being in the public interest to agree to the meeting.

"Drivers want what's best not just for themselves but also the public, and industrial action is always a last resort, particularly when you have to intensify it."

However, she characterised the withdrawal of the strike notice as a postponement, pending further talks.