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'That is not negotiations - that is a stick up'

Radio New Zealand logo Radio New Zealand 5 days ago

The company running Wellington's rail service is keen to talk to avert tomorrow's train strike but says the union will not speak to it unless it withdraws its current employment offer.

Members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union have announced plans to strike for 24 hours from 2am tomorrow.

That would disrupt travel for tens of thousands of Wellington commuters.

It would happen on a day when students face eight exams for NCEA and scholarship.

Rail commuters have been advised to make other travel arrangements and have been warned that at this stage there will be no bus replacement services, though that could change.

The strike has come about after the union accused the company of trying to remove longstanding conditions from staff collective agreements.

But Transdev replied it was offering an average increase of two percent in wages and allowances to its staff.

A senior company executive David Gould was critical of the approach of the union to holding talks to prevent the strike from going ahead.

"We are totally invested in the bargaining process, but unfortunately that has not been reflected in the union's approach," he said.

"They have told us - and I have been speaking to the mediation service - that their condition for returning to the bargaining table is that we withdraw all our claims.

"That is not negotiations - that is a stick up."

Mr Gould also rejected a claim that some staff were paid a $16 an hour.

"There is no such rate in this business. We are confident we have met the standard of the living wage... and we have offered to invite the living wage organisation in to prove it."

Mr Gould also said he was keen to talk.

"I have made it clear to mediation services that we would be back at the table in a heartbeat if the union would meet us and engage in proper good faith negotiations.

"When they called me back the unions' position is unchanged - they say take it or leave it - withdraw all your claims or we will not talk to you."

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