This Friday 13 May is again a Fare Free Day for bus passengers travelling in Sydney’s Inner West on services run by the company Transit Systems under the Region 6 Contract. Fare Free Days will continue every Friday in May.
Passengers can leave their Opal Card in their wallets as drivers are turning off Opal Card Machines. The Region 6 Bus Contract covers the Inner West, Some Sydney CBD, Olympic Park Strathfield, Rockdale. (A link to the map of regions is below.)
Industrial Action that does not inconvenience passengers is the focus of Bus Drivers, members of the TWU and the RTBU, because Transit Systems, the Transport Minister David Elliott and Transport for NSW have ignored their concerns.
The two bus unions, the TWU and the RTBU are seeking meetings with the Transport Minister David Elliott. The Unions are of the view that David Elliott needs to step in and fix a range of problems in the industry that are causing problems for workers and passengers. The NSW Government is the Economic Employer for NSW bus contracts. We have asked, but the Minister has not yet responded.
In the media, we have heard David Elliott’s opinions on banning ham sandwiches and the Federal Election, but not one comment on the difficulties bus drivers face.
Richard Olsen, State secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union said, “Minister David Elliott must pull his focus away from the Federal Election campaign and simply do his job. Which is to take responsibility for safety and fairness for bus drivers, providing fatigue management infrastructure like toilets along bus routes.”
Tram and Bus Division Secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW, David Babineau said, “If the NSW Transport Minister thinks that he can just ignore bus drivers in the hope that we’ll eventually just give up on our calls for equity and go away quietly, then he’s sadly mistaken.”
In Region 6, in 2018, Transport for NSW and the NSW Government delivered 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 all managed by Transit Systems who refuse to fix a broken system.
Richard Olsen said, “There have been no increases in their welfare in as far as toilet facilities, lunch break facilities or fatigue management. Drivers working under a two-tier pay system can drive five to six hours and want to stop and heat up a meal or go to the toilet, yet when they get to that place where they are told to stop, there is nothing for them. This is 2022, David Elliott as the economic employer is responsible for fixing this.
David Babineau said, “We can’t sit back and allow a two-tier system, where bus drivers doing exactly the same job are on different wages and conditions, continue. “Commuters will get free bus trips every Friday in May in an attempt to force the NSW Government to take action to address the mess of its making.”
Given that the single biggest cost component in bus contracts is labour costs, it is clear from the outset that the object of the Government decision to introduce competitive tendering was to put downward pressure on pay and conditions for bus drivers. It is therefore unsurprising to the TWU and the RTBU that the plight of bus drivers throughout New South Wales has only worsened since 2012.
Media Inquiries –
TWU – Colin Henderson 0405 625 208