On Monday 2 May at the NSW Parliament, Richard Olsen, State Secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) and a Transit Systems Bus Driver will present evidence to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the privatisation of bus services.
In 2018, the former Transport Minister Andrew Constance announced Transit Systems would take over as the operator of Region Six bus routes in the Inner West of Sydney. The Transport Minister promised the private operator would deliver higher frequency bus services, improvements to services on key routes, electric buses and new technology and he described the tender announcement as “a great day for people who travel by bus.”
Not for Bus Drivers.
Transport for NSW and the NSW Government delivered to the commuters of NSW a two-tiered pay system for drivers doing the same job, along with the stark reality of unachievable timetables and inadequately resourced routes that put drivers and passengers in danger.
“That’s actually right across the private bus industry in NSW,” said Richard Olsen, TWU State Secretary. “TWU Bus Drivers have told us they face a range of health issues from inadequate driving breaks, they face violence and abuse, they see serious safety and maintenance issues on buses. Drivers are not safe and they are unfairly treated with two pay rates for doing the same job.”
Drivers have told the TWU they face a growing list of health issues from inadequate driving breaks, along with inadequate facilities to have those breaks. Richard Olsen said, “Drivers are directly linking these problems to the NSW Government tendering out bus services.”
“On these issues, the current Transport Minister, David Elliott, publicly disowned the responsibility he and his Department have for safety and industry fairness. Mr Elliott chose to betray NSW bus drivers by politicising their issues rather than fixing them,” Richard Olsen said.
The TWU has filed a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry saying:
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise that private bus companies that have tendered for work, offering the lowest possible price, continue to cut the wages of their drivers, require drivers to operate at unsafe staffing levels and for unsafe periods of time, require drivers to engage in unsafe road practices to meet unreasonable timetables, cut corners with the maintenance of buses, remove stops from services and seek to close routes that are unprofitable.”
Because of the tendering process in Region 6, Transit Systems has established a two-tiered workforce. The drivers engaged prior to their awarding of the contract were paid a higher grandfathered rate of remuneration, whereas drivers engaged after the contract are paid a lower rate.
“In NSW, competitive tendering’s very nature has meant a lowering of standards based on the key requirements of offering the lowest possible price and over-promising on service delivery. The TWU can clearly see this process places downward pressure on workers, cuts pay and conditions, creates disparity and puts the lives of drivers and passengers in danger,” Richard Olsen said.
The TWU Submission to the Inquiry is available on the NSW Parliament Website: https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/submissions/78134/005%20Transport%20Workers%27%20Union%20of%20New%20South%20Wales.pdf