Strike will not affect bus services, company says

A bus driver strike today will have no impact on services around Dunedin, the bus company's manager says.

First Union members working for Ritchies in Dunedin will go on strike today in protest against a breakdown in negotiations over wages.

The drivers will stop work for 24 hours from 7am and will hold a picket in the Octagon from 10am.

Ritchies area manager Peter Varrie said the strike would not have any impact on the company's services, including cruise ship shuttles and the city's public transport.

"All services will run, everything is covered and the union is very welcome to go out on strike and I'll even take coffee and scones out to them.''

About 10 drivers would be taking part in the strike, he said.

He had told the Otago Regional Council there would be no impact on the city's buses operated by the company.

The regional council did not respond to requests for comment last night.

First Union southern region secretary Paul Watson said members had been offered a ``pathetic'' pay rise to just $19 an hour, with no back-pay, and Ritchies was no longer interested in negotiating.

"Negotiation is about give and take. Ritchies is simply taking as much as it can. Union members are simply asking for a fair go.''

The union had offered to take the disputed matters to mediation but Ritchies had refused, Mr Watson said.

"Our members deserve a living wage. This is a wage that would allow them to pay for life's necessitates and be more active in their communities. It's not a big ask.''


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