Sunbus offer: 20c a year

Release date: 19/01/2011

THE Transport Workers' Union has confirmed Townsville bus drivers will hang up their keys again on Friday to protest a proposed pay increase of 20c a year.

Rachel Toune, Townsville Bulletin

The TWU said yesterday it had filed two applications with Fair Work Australia seeking bargaining orders against Transit Australia Group (TAG), parent company for Sunbus.

Sunbus drivers are set to stop work on Friday between 5am and 9am. Magnetic Island and Bushland Beach services will not be affected.

The action follows a 48-hour strike in Townsville over the new year after ongoing negotiations over the drivers' new enterprise agreements soured.

Union secretary Peter Biagini said the company's proposal of 20c a year over five years was "scandalous".

He said the applications to Fair Work Australia related to enterprise agreements for drivers in Townsville and the Sunshine Coast.

"One working day after our drivers exercised maximum goodwill by voting to place a moratorium on protected industrial action, TAG broke off negotiations," Mr Biagini said. "I have never experienced such wilful duplicity from a company."

Mr Biagini claimed the company had failed to meet good-faith bargaining obligations for withholding financial information and refusing written requests for further meetings.

But TAG general manager Megan Harkin said the union had declined a request to discuss a joint application to Fair Work Australia to resolve the saga.

Ms Harkin said the union was "philosophically opposed" to the company's right to shift employees towards the terms and conditions of the new federal award.

Mr Biagini said an offer of $1 over five years was an "outrageous insult".

"If TAG says it can't afford to pay the drivers a fair wage, we say prove it," he said.

"It has done nothing in that regard, and its behaviour, in failing to negotiate fairly, is actively sabotaging a resolution of this dispute."

Mr Biagini said the Fair Work Act 2009 imposed good-faith bargaining obligations, including a commitment to attend and take part in meetings at reasonable times.

A hearing date for the union's applications has yet to be determined.


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