Scuffles during Go Bus strike as pay dispute turns ugly in Hamilton

Scuffles broke out at the Go Bus depot in Hamilton on Monday morning when drivers tried to prevent buses from leaving as a long-running pay dispute escalated.

A union organiser for Hamilton bus drivers says she'll complain to police, claiming she was manhandled during the chaos.

Drivers in First Union planned to stop taking fares over their pay dispute.

"If the income and profit isn't coming to the drivers it shouldn't be coming to the company," says union organiser Jax Oldham.

But managers believed that could raise health and safety issues for its non-union drivers. They feared violence from members of the public who might expect a free ride, so instead they locked out the union members who in turn tried to block buses from leaving.

It was then that Ms Oldham says a scuffle broke out off camera.

"It was a bit rough... just, you know, shoulder-barging me and pushing me into the bus."

Ms Oldham says matters were fraught.

"At the transport centre, one of the managers... was shouting at the drivers just to run them over," she says.

Go Bus wouldn't appear on camera, but issued a statement saying it'd had no reports of an assault, and neither had the police - but will investigate if it gets one.

Go Bus said it was endeavouring to stick to the facts.

The 80 FIRST Union members say they're paid between $17.35 and $19.46. They want the living wage of $20.55, but managers say they can't afford it now. Go Bus says it's more than happy to work with them in presenting the case to the authorities that fund the bus services.

The escalation of this 20-month dispute will see far fewer buses on the road. Bus users can expect no weekday service for the foreseeable future.


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