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Drivers move closer to a living wage

All obstacles appear to have been lifted to allow a group of Otago bus drivers to finally earn their living wages, just before Christmas.

However, the drivers would not be celebrating yet, Dunedin Streetcar Union chairman Alan Saville said yesterday.

“We’ll just wait for it to be in our bank accounts before we get excited,” Mr. Saville said.

Some bus drivers had to wait months for their promised living wages while various entities worked a slow process.

The Otago Regional Council and New Zealand Transport Agency confirmed this week that nothing significant is now preventing bus drivers from securing the September 2021 living wage rate, $ 22.75l ‘time.

Go Bus Transport drivers were told at the end of September that they could expect to receive their pay rise imminently after a deal was scrutinized with the regional council.

The board had reached an agreement with Ritchies Transport in August.

However, Mr Saville told regional advisers last week that some drivers were still not receiving the living wage as of September 2021.

The advisers were informed by Regional Director of Transportation Garry Maloney that the implementation depended on the co-investment of the transportation agency, that one of its committees had to approve it and then should be approved.

Area council chief operating officer Gavin Palmer said this week that council has received confirmation from the transportation agency and that purchase orders and invoices will now be generated at the new rate.

“We are doing our part as quickly as possible to get the September 2021 living wage paid to drivers,” said Dr Palmer.

A spokeswoman for the transport agency said the council applied to her for funding in late November.

It has been reviewed and has been approved.

The agency had committed in May to co-invest with the regional councils to help them obtain payment of the living wage.

A larger saga has dragged on since the middle of last year.

Otago regional advisers ruled in June last year that bus drivers in Dunedin and Queenstown should be paid a living wage, which was $ 22.10 an hour at the time.

In May of this year, advisers agreed that the planned wage increase should be backdated to July of last year, but the money was not immediately paid into the bank accounts of many drivers amid negotiations. contractual with the bus companies.

Dr Palmer said the board was not the drivers’ direct employer, but needed detailed payroll information from the two bus companies.

There were significant complexities and negotiations involved, he said.

A full report on the process will be produced early next year.

Dr Palmer said the transportation agency said it was investigating a streamlined process to ensure wages continue to rise over time.

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