Rae Wilson, Sunshine Coast Daily
It took 19 months, 19 stoppages, 48-hour strikes and 24-hour lockouts. But the Sunshine Coast bus drivers have won their battle for fair pay and conditions.
Transit Australia Group, Sunbus's parent company, and union members have endorsed a three-year enterprise agreement following the release of the Electoral Commission's voting ballot count yesterday.
Drivers will get a 3.5% pay increase each year of the agreement, paid leave loading for the first time, and reinstatement of penalty rates.
The strikes affected events such as New Year's Eve and Australia Day celebrations during the 19-month dispute.
TAG moved to assure customers the agreement meant there would be no more disruptions and they could rely on bus services.
Transport Workers Union bus industry co-ordinator Bob Giddens said membership had remained at more than 90% in the Coast yard during negotiations.
“This is a yard that stuck together through thick and thin, through multiple protected industrial actions, through numerous visits to Fair Work Australia for conciliation,” he said.
“What we've achieved is almost everything we've asked for but instead of immediately it's over the three-year period. We missed out on overtime. The award says 50% for the first three hours and then 100% but the guys are stuck with 23%.
“We've achieved a tremendous platform to jump from next time.
“It could always be better but the majority seem to be happy.”
Sunshine Coast Destination chief Steve Cooper said the buses were the backbone of the Coast's transport system.
“From the outset this ongoing dispute has been less than helpful not only to the community but the broader tourism message,” he said.
“The tourism industry is relieved to finally see this moving forward with the dispute finally resolved.
“It provides reliability and that allows us to assure our hundreds of thousands of visitors that they can expect a safe and reliable transport mode, particularly as we approach the busy season for tourism.”
Transit Australia Group general manager Megan Harkin said the agreement marked a new era for public transport on the Sunshine Coast
“Our employees are happy and the agreement is sustainable,'' Ms Harkin said.
“We can assure the Sunshine Coast community there will be no more service disruptions and inconvenience. Our customers can rely on their bus service once again.”
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