New rule to help keep bus services running

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A new land transport rule agreed to by Cabinet aims to help avert thousands of bus services being cancelled and give bus drivers the rest breaks they need to keep passengers safe, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced.

The new rule is in response to concerns raised by councils, bus operators and unions that new rest and meal break entitlements, which come into effect on Monday 6 May, would cause the cancellation of numerous daily bus services.

The changes to the Employment Relations Act require employers and employees to reach agreement on rest and meal breaks together. If agreement can’t be reached rest breaks are to be taken in the middle of a work period.

Phil Twyford said the new rule gives flexibility to bus operators when scheduling rest breaks for bus drivers.

“I want to thank all parties for trying to make this work: the operators have risen to the challenge of a very complex scheduling task; the unions have been constructive and accommodating by giving operators the flexibility to schedule breaks to minimise disruption; and the councils have been flexible in the timetabling of services.

“Our Government believes that bus drivers, like all workers, deserve fair breaks. This is not only an issue of fairness, it is an issue of public safety for passengers and other road users.

“This regulatory intervention is intended only as an interim solution while operators adjust their schedules to implement the changes.”

Phil Twyford and Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Iain Lees-Galloway held meetings at Parliament with bus operators, councils and unions to find a way to manage the transition to the new rules on breaks with minimal disruption to passengers.

Iain Lees-Galloway said in addition to the new land transport rule, councils, union heads and bus operators had agreed on a Memorandum of Understanding.

“This sets the foundation for working together to transition the bus industry to the new breaks in a fair and efficient way, and to then work to address wider issues affecting the industry,” Iain Lees-Galloway said.

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