NZ Bus drivers reject latest pay offer, will strike again next week if there's no resolution

Wellington bus drivers have rejected NZ Bus's latest offer and have warned they will strike again if they remain at a stalemate by next week.

The Wellington Tramways Union has been locked in a pay dispute with New Zealand's largest bus company since August 2020, but talks broke down in March.

As a result, NZ Bus in April proposed a wage increase in exchange for the removal or reduction of several benefits highly valued by drivers. This was shot down by employees, leading to strike action and a retaliatory lockout notice.

In another attempt to strike a deal this week, NZ Bus offered drivers a one-off payment of $10,000 for those employed for five years or more, with all other drivers getting $5000.

But the Wellington Tramways Union on Thursday announced its members had voted not to agree to the offer, describing it as a "bribe". They say if a resolution isn't reached by next Friday, they will go on strike again.

The union's secretary Kevin O'Sullivan says the rejection isn't a surprise.

"Members don't want to give up their rates and allowances - these are the parts of the agreement that give them some control over their work lives and their health and safety," he said in a statement.

"The company has tried bullying tactics with its so-called indefinite lockout and now it has tried the bribe of a big one-off payment.

"Neither has worked because our members know how important their conditions are to their long-term take-home pay and to their ability to manage their work lives."

O'Sullivan urged NZ Bus and owner Next Capital to negotiate a fair deal.

"Our members have given them until the 27th to do so before they resume industrial action."