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."