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Government stalls EA negotiations

Speculation is mounting that the NSW Government is stalling bus driver EA negotiations as a new operator prepares to enter the market

By Sean Muir | September 27, 2012

Withdrawal of an enterprise agreement (EA) offer made to bus drivers has spurred speculation the New South Wales Government is stalling negotiations as a new operator prepares to enter the market.

Negotiations for the new enterprise agreements ceased recently after the State Government announced metropolitan and outer-metropolitan contracts would be breached if conditions were negotiated beyond contract expiration.

It is understood that delaying the agreement could give flexibility for a new entrant, taking over a contract, to negotiate a new enterprise agreement with drivers.

The government’s announcement, which prompted BusNSW to withdraw an EA offer made last month, has outraged drivers, who believed conditions would be protected during the new tendering process.

Transport Workers Union (TWU) NSW State Assistant Secretary Michael Aird says the government’s announcement is in stark contrast to the commitment it made to bus drivers earlier this year.

“The State Liberal Government made a promise to private bus drivers back in June this year that they would look after their conditions in such uncertain times,”
Aird says.

“Our drivers truly believed that the government would keep to its word, but its recent actions show that this was a hollow promise.”

BusNSW Executive Director Darryl Mellish has requested Transport for NSW (TfNSW) reconsider its decision to place restrictions on metropolitan and outer-metropolitan contract operators entering reasonable term EAs.

“We are waiting for a formal response from TfNSW and remain hopeful that it can be resolved,” he says.

“The tendering environment has created a lot of uncertainty for operators and drivers.”

But Mellish says the union’s current EA claim is above what operators can afford to pay, which is determined by wage indexation in the contracts.

“BusNSW has recommended for operators to pass on an increase of 2.75 percent from the first full pay period in July, as an act of good faith whilst negotiations take place.”

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