City News

Transport workers gather at Martin Place for ‘safer and fairer’ bus standards

About 2000 workers took part in Monday's strike. Photo: Transport Workers' Union.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

Hundreds of transport workers gathered at Martin Place on Monday to seek ‘safer and fairer’ standards across the Sydney bus network, with drivers demanding same-job same-pay protections and for the NSW government to take ‘their fair share of the responsibility’ for better working conditions.

Unions believe that about 2000 bus drivers working for private companies walked off the job on Monday, with the Inner West one of the hardest-hit areas of the strike, with only 35 per cent of workers on duty.

Hundreds of drivers on strike met at Martin Place to call for improved pay and conditions across bus contract regions, before marching on to Macquarie Street.

State Member for Summer Hill and Shadow Transport Minister Jo Haylen spoke at the rally, saying via Facebook that the pay and conditions for drivers working for private companies “needs to change”, calling it “no way to run a transport service”.

Bus drivers on Sydney’s privatised bus networks say that some receive significantly lower pay and worse conditions than others working identical routes from identical depots.

The Transport Workers’ Union called on Transport Minister David Elliott to “take responsibility as the economic employer with Transport for NSW to enforce industry standards”, saying that he needs to “take charge”.

In response to the strikes, Mr Elliott said it is “not the government’s job to get between a worker and a employer”, adding that the negotiations were a matter for bus drivers and private operators.

The Union said that Mr Elliott “again chose belligerence … rather than take a stand as Transport Minister to fix the problems of safety and fairness in the bus industry”.

Bus strike comes two months after train shutdown 

The strikes from bus drivers on Monday come after the Sydney train network was shut down in February after negotiations for conditions and pay for train workers broke down.

Rail, Bus and Tram Union NSW Secretary Alex Claasens said in February that staff were preparing to arrive at work on the Monday morning to take place in low-level industrial action that wouldn’t have impacted commuters, before being told by management that the train network wouldn’t run.

Mr Elliott blamed the union for the shutdown, while Mr Claasens accused the state government of “spitting the dummy”.

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