Tasmanian bus drivers to strike again

Metro Tasmania bus drivers will stop work next week after more than 300 drivers went on strike today

By Sean Muir |
March 1, 2012

Metro Tasmania bus drivers will stop work next week after more than 300 drivers went on strike today.

The industrial action
is the result of an ongoing pay dispute between Metro Tasmania and the the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RBTU).

Metro Tasmania has offered workers a 2 percent wage increase
per year for three years.

But the RBTU wants a 3 percent wage rise
per year for three years.

Metro Tasmania CEO Heather Haselgrove says the pay increase the state-owned company is offering is already double annual inflation.

"The increase we have offered is fair," she says.

Metro’s fleet stood still today, affecting up to 13,000 commuters.

The strike follows other action including restrictions on overtime and non-wearing of uniforms.

On Tuesday, March 5,
metro services in Hobart and Launceston are expected to be disrupted from 4pm to 9pm due to another stop work meeting by Metro bus drivers at Hobart and Launceston depots.

"It’s been very disruptive for passengers," Haselgrove says.

But Metro’s Board today confirmed it will not increase its pay offer to drivers in response to industrial action.

"With a very high level of taxpayer funding and falling patronage, Metro has no capacity to increase the offer without finding real ways to reduce costs," Haselgrove says.

"It is very disappointing that the union is refusing to negotiate any efficiency measures and is saying it will accept nothing less than a 3 percent a year increase."

Haselgrove said drivers could be getting more pay immediately if they accepted the offer already put forward.

She says while the pay offer is 6 percent over three years, the agreement to compress wage classifications is an additional cost to Metro of $585,000 over the three years, going directly to driver pay.

Haselgrove says compressing current wage classification will mean all drivers will achieve the highest pay level after being with Metro for three years and attaining a Certificate III in Transport and Logistics.

She says this means more than half Metro’s 370 drivers would have an effective increase in their pay packets of between 8.5 percent and 31.4 percent over the three years of the agreement due to the compression of current wage classifications.

She says under the agreement first-year drivers with Metro will get a 31.4 percent wage increase over three years, while second-year drivers will get a 17.8 percent wage increase.

Haselgrove says third- and fourth-year drivers will get a 14.3 percent wage increase and fifth- and sixth-year drivers, an 8.5 percent pay increase.

She says even drivers who have been with Metro for seven or eight years will get a 7.8 percent increase for the period, with no drivers getting less than a 6 percent wage increase.

Haselgrove says it currently takes 10 years of service to achieve the top level of pay.

At talks earlier this week the
RBTU withdrew two previously agreed efficiency offsets including:

  • a provision for bus drivers to operate out of Hobart’s satellite yards at weekends to reduce costs and allow drivers to work closer to where they live
  • a provision relating to maximum driving times and rest periods that creates flexibility in producing more efficient rosters.

Haselgrove says Metro is committed to the pay offer and is willing to continue to negotiate but can only agree to any further pay increase if it comes with cost cuts.

"There is a range of historic practices and measures which are not present in modern agreements in other states which could be traded for a further pay increase if the union was willing to negotiate," she says.

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