Newcastle bus drivers have walked off the job today, fed up with failed negotiations with one of the regions private bus operators.
Keolis Downer and the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) have come to a deadlock over a dispute about a seven per cent pay increase over two years.
The drivers stopped work at 2am today for 24 hours. The industrial action is only affecting Keolis Downer buses, services operated by Hunter Valley Buses, Rover Motors and Port Stephens will not be affected.
Newcastle Transport light rail and ferry services will continue to operate as normal.
Tram and Bus Division President of the RTBU NSW, Daniel Jaggers said inconveniencing the community is a last resort.
“We find ourselves back at square one when it comes to negotiating the Enterprise Agreement with Keolis Downer. A seven percent increase over two years to help offset cost of living pressures is a fair ask from drivers who just want to earn a decent livingwage.”
“All this could be avoided if Keolis Downer would budge from the original insufficient offer made to drivers, which would see their wages go backwards. The private operator’s solution was to then tell members they could earn more if they worked more-what an insult!”
“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, if Keolis Downer says it can only pay what the government provides then Minister David Elliott needs to readjust the government contracts with private operators and stop punishing drivers for their privatisation bungle,” Daniel Jaggers said.
Buses will be back to normal from 02:01 tomorrow, but there will be an indefinite ban on the logging into, and any other use of the Bus Driver Console. It is the union’s understanding that this action will not allow the Opal card readers to operate.