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A row has broken out in New Zealand over a ban on bus drivers wearing shorts to work, right in the middle of the country's summer.

Two drivers in the capital Wellington were told not to come to work the next day because they refused to wear uniform trousers, city newspaper reports.

And Trish Fenaughty said she was pulled from her route for wearing shorts in temperatures on board of 26 degrees Celsius (79 Fahrenheit). She doesn't know whether a trouser-wearing driver was able to cover her shift.

Tramways union secretary Kevin O'Sullivan said the situation was "stupidity of the highest order".

"They are sending people home when they are short of drivers," he complained, adding that he knew of only one driver in the city who had managed to get an exemption on grounds of eczema - and then he had needed a certificate from a dermatologist.

Back in July, Wellington's bus services dropped the shorts option from their uniform policy, but no one seems sure where the edict comes from.

The GOWellington bus company told Mr O'Sullivan that it was just enforcing rules passed down from Greater Wellington Regional Council, which oversees the Metlink city transport authority.

But a Metlink spokesman said: "Our requirements do not preclude shorts; we ask only that drivers are well-presented, and it is up to the operators to exercise their discretion. We are not aware of any driver having been sent home, and if that happened, it was certainly not at our say-so... we have nothing against shorts," he told Stuff.

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GOWellington insists that shorts are not part of the official Metlink uniform, so "contractually, it's a requirement that drivers wear the prescribed uniform items while operating Metlink services".