Auckland commuters facing delays as train workers strike

Train capacity during peak times in Auckland could be reduced by half over the next month due to a strike by maintenance workers.

Staff at CAF, a Spanish company that fixes Auckland Transport trains, say they're getting paid far less than workers at KiwiRail.

After 26 of 29 maintenance workers announced they would go on strike, the firm responded by suspending them for 30 days; meaning Auckland commuters could face delays.

"Within two or three days trains will start to stack up because they can't possibly maintain them in a safe manner and that means runs on the network will be cancelled," Rudd Hughes, organiser of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) told Newshub.

The striking workers say CAF NZ pays them 13 percent less than other companies.

"We are only requesting them trying to be fair to us, to put us on some kind of parity on the market rate, and give us the amount we deserve," a worker who wanted to remain anonymous said.

The RMTU says CAF NZ workers get $27-30 an hour, but if they worked for KiwiRail they would receive $30.50-$33.50 - a difference of about $7000 per year.

CAF staff say the company is able to get away with paying them less because most of them are from overseas. They didn't realise until they arrived in New Zealand that this was the case and by that stage they were already locked into a work visa contract

"A friend of ours is moving to a different company and doing the same job and getting more pay," another worker told Newshub.

"You are tied to a bond or a visa, unfortunately, and you cannot switch to that company to get those wages."

The RMTU says CAF is pressuring staff to return to work by imposing an "aggressive" 30-day unpaid "lockout".

CAF NZ didn't respond to Newshub's requests for an interview however in a statement the general manager Israel Gomez said the company does have a right to suspend staff during strike action.

Gomez said that this wasn't a lock out and any workers who wish to return to work could do so.

Auckland Transport says its contingency plan includes cancelling some services and reducing the number of carriages from six to three during peak times.