NSW bus drivers’ strike causes commuter chaos
Sydneysiders face another day of suburban chaos as more than 1,000 bus drivers leave work.
Commuters in NSW are having a tough start to the week with delays to their morning commute as bus drivers went on a 24-hour strike.
Drivers from the Transport Workers’ Union and the Railway, Tram and Bus Union walked off work for 24 hours from one minute after midnight on Monday, demanding fair pay and better working conditions.
Monday morning commuters are now facing major transport delays and chaos on the roads.
NSW politicians, commuters and parents trying to take advantage of the first day of school holidays have pleaded with bus workers to call off the strike, but disruption will be felt across the state.
While Sydney will face the brunt of the disruption, areas outside the city that will be affected include the Hunter region, Lake Macquarie, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Queanbeyan.
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said workers are frustrated because wages are not keeping up with the cost of living.
“The people you’ve seen taking industrial action are all frontline workers, whether they’re nurses, teachers, transport workers, and that’s happening today,” he said. she told the Today Show.
“People have to really, really cut back now because of inflation and wages not going up and people only go on strike as a last resort and unfortunately that is what is happening now.
Ms McManus said the families found it ‘difficult’, with the problem worsening over eight years.
“The New South Wales government should respond by making sure its essential workers don’t back down,” she said.
Some early morning commuters woke up in shock on Monday, some unaware that their services were going to be interrupted.
Transport for NSW urges commuters to plan ahead, follow announcements and use travel alternatives where possible.
The ministry said the affected lines would operate on a reduced schedule.
Parents planning to go to the Easter show can breathe a sigh of relief as the event buses are always ready to run.
The ministry said drivers will be allowed to use the T2 and T3 public transport lanes without risking a fine during the strike.
The union denounced the government’s move to privatize bus services and said it would demand Transport Minister David Elliott to ‘take his share of the responsibility in implementing a set of standards of the industry that ensure a safer and fairer bus industry”.
“David Elliott continues to shirk his responsibility for the health and safety of bus drivers and their passengers,” said TWU Secretary of State Richard Olsen.
“Drivers drive NSW Government owned buses, bus routes and bus stops are set by the NSW Government, but the Government, through the Minister, does not claim responsibility for the safety and conditions of workers who operate the buses.”
Unions demanded reasonable breaks and hours for drivers, shifts of no more than 12 hours and a minimum of 10 hours between workdays, better training and equal pay for drivers doing the same work.
Mr Elliott said earlier in the week that the unions’ demands were not a matter for the government.
“The ongoing negotiations over wages and conditions are a matter between bus drivers and private operators,” he said last Wednesday.
“The NSW Government cannot intervene in the negotiation of company agreements between private operators and their workers.”
Mr Elliott also said he was disappointed the strike was happening during school holidays and accused the unions of trying to ‘exploit the state’s transport system for the political gain of the Labor Party’.
Sydney routes that will offer reduced services:
- Liverpool, Fairfield, Parramatta, (public transport systems)
- Hills District (CDC)
- Inner West, Some Sydney CBD, Olympic Park, Strathfield, Rockdale (Transit Systems)
- Cronulla, Engadine, Sutherland, Menai (Transdev)
- Hornsby, Gordon, Berowra (Transdev)
- Lidcombe, Granville, Bankstown, Liverpool (Transdev)
- Outdoor subway
Roads in the rest of the state that will run reduced services:
- Newcastle (CDC Hunter)
- Hunter Valley (CDC hunter)
- Tuggerah and Wyong (coastal liner)
- Blue Mountains (Blue Mountains Transit)