If you were hoping to catch a bus for free this week thanks to Newcastle bus drivers’ industrial action, you’re out of luck.
A legal threat has led bus drivers with the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) who work for Keolis Downer to cancel a plan to stop collecting fares on Keolis Downer buses this week.
The industrial action between the workers and the bus company is over what the drivers say is an insufficient Enterprise Agreement offer – RTBU members were seeking a 7 per cent increase over a two year period to offset rising cost of living pressures.
Tram and Bus Division President of the RTBU NSW, Daniel Jaggers said any industrial action would be a last resort to get Keolis Downer back to the negotiating table.
“We don’t want to inconvenience the community. Keolis Downer has now threatened legal action against our proposed action to not operate collection devices from next week. Instead of getting side-tracked in an unnecessary legal fight, we have withdrawn the action. We intend to notify other industrial action shortly.”
“Instead of working on a deal for drivers to earn a decent living wage, Keolis Downer has unfortunately chosen to spend its time making legal threats. We’ve been back and forth in bargaining for our Enterprise Agreement and we’re basically back to square one.”
“The RTBU has said multiple times now that if Keolis Downer’s claim that they can only pay what the government gives them is true, then Minister David Elliott needs to readjust the private operator contracts to ensure members wages don’t go backwards.”
“Drivers deserve to earn a decent living wage so they can live where they work. They didn’t ask for the privatisation of Newcastle’s bus services and shouldn’t be punished by the contracts the operator is held to,” David Jaggers said.
The union will be seeking direction from its members and cannot rule out further industrial action should a negotiated solution in the future not be reached.