The Sydney bus strikes have rolled on this week, as bus drivers in the Inner West began their 24-hour industrial action on Monday demanding equal pay after the State Government’s bus privatisation.
Members of the Transport Workers’ Union and Rail, Tram & Bus Union at Burwood, Leichhardt, Kingsgrove and Tempe depots protested the different pay and conditions between those employed before and after the privatisation. Up to 1200 workers will be involved in the strikes.
“Drivers have been left with no option but to take this strike action in order to have their voice heard – now it’s time for the State Government and the operator Transit Systems to listen to their drivers, and end the unfair two-tiered pay system that currently exists,” Transport Workers Union NSW State Secretary Richard Olsen said.
“This is ultimately a problem of the State Government’s making – their privatisation of Sydney’s buses has led to this mess where drivers are on all kinds of different pay and conditions, despite doing the exact same job.”
The industrial action on Monday was led by drivers in Region 6, which covers the Inner West. Drivers in Region 3, spanning southwest Sydney, are to protest on Tuesday.
Calls for the State to intervene have intensified after industrial action began last Thursday when workers did not operate buses between 4:00-6:00 am on Thursday and 5:00-7:00 pm on Friday.
Getting Off Track
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members will protest on Tuesday through a refusal to drive foreign-made trains, which comprises three-quarters of the fleet.
The RBTU has been negotiating a new bargaining agreement after its predecessor expired in May last year and will strike after more than 40 meetings with Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink.
Train workers wish to end privatisation and also receive a stronger commitment to safety and hygiene standards without reliance on contractors for labour.
RTBU Bus & Tram Division Secretary David Babineau thought that the State left workers with “no other options” but to strike.
“We’re confident that commuters will understand that the bus drivers who have worked so hard throughout the pandemic to keep our community moving, despite the personal risks, don’t take action like this lightly,” he said.
“We can’t sit back and let the NSW Government create situations like this where you have workers doing exactly the same job on different rates of pay and conditions.”