Inner West buses free on Monday as drivers take industrial action and turn off Opal readers
Bus drivers in Sydney’s Inner West will carry commuters for free on Monday 22 November, taking industrial action against private operator Transit Systems and turning off Opal readers in a fight for equal pay and conditions for drivers.
Drivers are negotiating to fix a two-tiered workforce in Region 6 that allows Transit Systems to give bus drivers doing the same job inferior wages and conditions.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW says after prolonged negotiations Transit Systems will not give their workers the same reward for the same job and has refused to attend negotiation meetings, giving drivers no choice but to take industrial action.
“Transit Systems has refused point blank to do the right thing and give its workers the same pay and conditions for doing the same job,” says David Babineau, Secretary of RTBU NSW Tram and Bus Division.
“Right now, you can have two bus drivers in the Inner West working side by side, but one gets less annual leave, no breaks, and is forced to work longer shifts.
“This two-tiered system is absolutely rotten, and of course Transit Systems wants to keep that arrangement in place if it means they can get away with paying their workers less.”
The contract system was created after Region 6 buses were privatised and Transit Systems hired new drivers on reduced pay and conditions, while the existing government employed bus drivers kept their original contract.
“All bus drivers want is to be treated fairly, and they have had enough. That’s why on Monday they’re taking industrial action to turn off their Opal machines, carrying passengers for free so Transit Systems can’t profit,” says Mr Babineau.
“This is what happens when public transport is privatised and run for profit. The public are robbed of their reliable services and workers are robbed of their pay and conditions.
“Bus drivers take immense pride in getting people where they need to go, and right now they’ve had a gutful of this privatised transport nightmare. I know the public has too.”