Bus drivers accuse managers of trying to drive over them during strike

Strikers on Monday.
Strikers on Monday. Photo credit: First Union / Supplied

Bus drivers are accusing their managers of attempting to drive over them during a tense Auckland strike on Monday.

First Union Go Bus drivers say the picket action in south Auckland turned serious this morning after two senior manager tried to forcefully drive through the picket line.

However, a spokesperson for the company says they strongly deny the accusations.

The drivers have been striking at Go Bus's airport depot and East Tamaki over their wages and their blockade prevented buses from leaving.

First Union representatives say that in response, two company managers got into buses and attempted to drive through the blockade.

First Union organiser Gem Pritchard was at the strike and told Newshub he witnessed what happened.

"It was really full-on, our workers were picketing quite peacefully when one of the managers came out of his office, started the bus and drove into us," he says.

Pritchard says the workers were pushed back around three-metres, and one suffered an injury to their back.

First Union secretary Jared Abbott is condemning the "disproportionate response" from Go Bus.

"This morning's dangerous bullying behaviour from senior Go Bus managers show that all they care about is their bottom line - not the people driving their buses for years, not the public, just their company's profit," he says.

"Our members have a lawful right to strike, especially when they've been met with so much hostility from Go Bus managers."

But Go Bus has responded, criticising First Union for causing delays to school buses and denying accusations it put the picket line at risk of injury.

"The union's decision to attempt to disrupt bus services on the first day of NCEA examinations shows just how out of touch they are with real people," Kura Poulava, HR director of Go Bus Transport, told NZME.

"We respect the right of the members of this union to strike and picket but implore them not to interfere with our lawful efforts to provide a reliable and safe bus service and ask them to think about our student passengers at this time."

And Auckland Transport told NZME the union's actions were "very disappointing".

"The union was blocking the road, not allowing any buses to leave, which included non-union drivers and several other transportation companies that used the road."

Pritchard says First Union will be talking to lawyers to discuss if any legal action will be taken against Go Bus due to their alleged actions against the blockade.

Bargaining with the bus company is set to resume on Friday.

Newshub.

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