April 14, 2022

NSW Government missing in action once again for Transport Workers

David Elliott, the NSW Transport Minister is missing in action. The Minister stood up to the media this past week and denied his responsibility when it came to managing the bus companies who operate Transport for NSW bus contracts.

Transport for NSW is the economic employer for the bus industry and contracts out the bus operations work to private companies that are effectively labour hire companies for the NSW Government.

The Government has been clear about their expectations regarding companies operating their contracts … including the maintaining of employment conditions and guarantees. The NSW Government through Transport for NSW has presided over a blatant breach of those expectations.

Mr Elliott as you publicly washed your hands this week of the responsibility for supervising those contracts, Federal Court Judge Steven Rares fined Transit Systems $181,000 after they tried to delay paying bus drivers a 2.5% increase arising from the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review.

Transit Systems is Australia’s largest bus operator, and operator of two bus contracts in Sydney, Region 3 and Region 6.

Transit Systems has been fined $181,000 by a Federal Court Judge having been found they:

  • failed to pay 754 bus drivers in NSW their annual wage increase when it was due
  • contravened a section of the Fair Work Act
  • “deliberately chose to ignore or postponed fulfilling its legal obligations”
  • “acted to avoid immediately honouring its legal obligations so as to see if it could exploit the industrial situation to its advantage”
  • Engaged in conduct by an employer seen by the Judge as “unacceptable and must be attended by an appropriately severe penalty”
  • Shared an email which quoted that Chief Executive Officer, Clint Feuerherdt, was “not happy” about having to pay a 2.5% wage increase
  • expressed hope they could “double down on any other increases for STA drivers in the first year of the EA after paying this increase

The Transport Workers’ Union stands beside the Rail Tram And Bus Union (RTBU) who patiently tried to resolve this issue with Transit Systems, but found the only way to have Transit Systems meet its financial obligations was to involve the Federal Court.

For drivers, a day at work is hell on wheels, they cannot get microwave facilities to heat up lunch at interchanges, they can’t get a toilet while they are on the road, in some cases drivers are driving without a break for over five hours and companies like Transit Systems are behind the scenes attacking pay and conditions. The ongoing dereliction of the duty of care for bus drivers by the NSW Government has been hammered home in this Federal Court Judgment.

The TWU told the media this week, “Workers in the Bus Industry came out on strike because the NSW Government and the Transport Minister are playing politics with the livelihood and safety of bus drivers and passengers.”

Our membership is angry, they are angry because they do not feel heard. They are angry because the NSW Government has not taken any notice of their issues, but chooses to deny their duty of care. This past week, Transport Minister David Elliott chose belligerence rather than take a stand as Transport Minister to fix the problems of safety and fairness in the bus industry.

The TWU is advising David Elliott to focus on the job at hand, asking him to wake up and do his job as the Economic Employer in the NSW Bus Industry.


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