ORC pushed for answers about living wage delay

Bus drivers wanted the living wage to be implemented and for drivers to be back-paid to July 1....
Bus drivers wanted the living wage to be implemented and for drivers to be back-paid to July 1. Photo: ODT files
Frustrated bus drivers have attended a regional council meeting, demanding to know the whereabouts of their promised wage increase.

First Union organiser Sonja Mitchell thanked Otago regional councillors for supporting the living wage for bus drivers mid-last year, but asked, "Where is it?".

A commitment to provide funding to pay Orbus drivers in Dunedin and Queenstown the living wage of $22.10 an hour by July 1, 2020, was made by the council when it approved funding for it in its 2020-21 annual plan in June last year.

While an explanation was not given to the about 15 union members during the full council meeting yesterday, some councillors admitted they shared bus drivers’ confusion.

Union member Catherine Bowden told councillors many bus drivers were being "weighed down" by increasing living costs.

Dunedin Tramways Union delegate Alan Savell told councillors it was about "deeds not words".

Bus drivers wanted the living wage to be implemented and for drivers to be back-paid to July 1.

"You raised the hopes and expectations of hundred of drivers," he said.

Chairman Andrew Noone said an explanation for the delay had been provided and the issue would be dealt with during council’s finance committee meeting on May 26 in Queenstown.

Earlier this month, transport manager Garry Maloney said the council still intended to introduce the living wage, but was waiting until a contract was re-tendered and awarded with a living wage component before it negotiated with operators of its other existing contracts to also include the living wage.

Ms Mitchell insisted the reason was still not clear.

Council operations general manager Gavin Palmer said the issue would be better dealt with during next month’s meeting as it was a "national issue".

However, some councillors were equally confused and thought it should be being paid.

Cr Michael Laws, who said he shared their "perplexity", asked union members whether there was anything happening at a national level that was stopping the living wage being implemented in Otago.

Ms Mitchell said that as far as she was aware, there was not.

"We understand money was allocated by this council to pay the living wage to drivers in this region.

"So, whatever discussions are going on at a national level ... there was a commitment made for the drivers in this region, and the drivers in this region don’t understand why they haven’t received [it]."



Shame on you ORC.
These drivers have worked through a Pandamic, when you worked safely from home.
These same drivers then through the roll out of your new system, where you were no where to be seen, hiding from bus users behind your desks making them shoulder all the additional work.
Now they are dealing with the mask situation and once again, you the esteemed office workers hide in your building and refuse to actively support or help them.
Now you deny them the benefit of the living wage, which you budgeted and promised them?

This seems a new low for a Council that is already struggling to show support and leadership.



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