TWU

Commuters braced for bus travel chaos

Release date: 8/08/2011

Coast bus travellers are braced for more chaos today, as drivers begin a two-day strike which could extend to the end of the week.

Roxanne Mccarty-O’Kane, Sunshine Coast Daily

As Sunbus and the Transport Workers Union (TWU) appear no closer to reaching an agreement, the bus company’s parent, the Transport Australia Group, repeated warnings the

Federal Workplace Relations Minister could be called in to end the stalemate.

Sunbus services across the Coast are cancelled from 4am today until 9am on Wednesday due to the industrial action.

If a resolution is not reached at a meeting of drivers, from 4am to 8am on Wednesday, the TWU has advised its members will cancel another full day of services on Thursday.

But a TAG spokeswoman yesterday issued the union with an ultimatum that a failed outcome from the stopwork meeting would force them to seek a federal ministerial declaration from Chris Evans to terminate the industrial action.

“The only chance of this changing is if the union or the drivers do lift the ban on overtime and we are working feverishly all week to get that to happen,” she said.

“We’re hoping to hold meetings with the actual bargaining agents and some of the drivers to get them to understand we can’t give them any more. They are not getting that message.”

TWU passenger transport co-ordinator Bob Giddens expressed fears the dispute could continue “indefinitely” if a third party did not intervene.

“There is a strength and unity amongst the drivers that they want to fight for the return of penalties,” he said.

“(The TGA) are obviously not prepared to budge one inch and my answer to that is the indications from the drivers is they’re not prepared to budge either. Maybe federal intervention might help.”

With both groups steadfastly refusing to compromise, there is more pain to come for public transport users, who have become the victims of this lengthy battle.

Among them is 19-year-old Jessica Pavey. The Kawana Island resident travels on Sunbus services seven days a week to get to university and to work at the Sunshine Plaza.

The service cancellations means not only will she miss a week of lectures, she will be unable to hand in an assignment because a hard copy is required by her tutor today.

“I support (the drivers’) actions, as annoying as it is. They do need the benefits, so I can see their point. But hopefully they do something soon so we are not being stranded,” she said.

Click here to read the story on Sunshine Coast News website

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