Transport Workers’ Union NSW branch delegates from several bus companies have unanimously endorsed a plan that includes a readiness to take industrial action to improve pay, superannuation and safety.
The union says the NSW Government must take responsibility for wages and conditions throughout the contracts it awards to private bus companies, which should be awarded on decent, secure jobs and safe conditions, not low cost.
Included in the bus drivers’ claim are provisions such as realistic timetables so that drivers aren’t forced to rush, working hours to manage fatigue and strong safety committees.
TWU NSW Branch Secretary Richard Olsen will lead the vote from the bus delegates at the union’s Minchinbury office today, stating the plan is about lifting standards to ensure fairness and keep bus drivers, passengers and other road users safe.
“Bus drivers provide an essential service to our communities. Over the last year while most of us isolated, bus drivers risked their own health to get passengers to supermarkets, covid testing clinics and now vaccination centres. As our economy recovers, it does so off the backs of bus drivers getting people to work and kids to school. The NSW Government relies on these jobs and bus drivers take pride in doing them.
“Of course, any industrial action can cause major disruption, but when bus drivers are under pressure to run to tight schedules and companies say they can’t afford to pay drivers fair wages or provide safe conditions, there is only one solution. Today we will set in motion a plan that will put pressure on the NSW Government to take responsibility for safety and fairness throughout the bus industry,” Olsen said.
According to the Bureau of Infrastructure and Transport, 113 people have been killed in bus crashes in Australia in the last five years.
Bus drivers are frequently subjected to attacks by passengers and members of the public. Last year, a TWU member was deliberately coughed on by a passenger who said he had coronavirus after he couldn’t pay the fare. The TWU NSW branch successfully campaigned for spit screens to be installed in buses following this and other reports of passengers spitting on drivers during the pandemic.
In 2019, a TWU NSW bus survey revealed:
· 84% of drivers face verbal abuse from passengers,
· 81% experiencing verbal abuse daily.
· 74% of Drivers have faced regular abuse when enforcing Opal card rules.