Vic bus takes the weight

Four hour tram and train strike to test the resilience of Melbourne’s bus network

Melbourne’s bus network will be tested when Metro Trains and Yarra Trams come to a halt for four hours next week.

Bus will have the full weight of the public transport network on its shoulders as Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members stop work over pay and conditions.

Melbourne’s unionised bus employees are members of the Transport Workers Union (TWU), rather than the RBTU and will operate as per usual.

A spokesperson for the Victorian Government minister for public transport Jacinta Allan says the decision by the union to strike is provocative, unnecessary and unfairly punishes passengers.

"If the union want to send out a message to the company that runs Melbourne’s train system, punishing passengers is not the way to send that message," he says.

"There is still enough time to have this matter resolved and spare thousands of Victorians the pain and disruption of train network stoppages.

"The union and operators need to come to an agreement as soon as possible and not punish passengers."

The Victorian Government says it will do everything it can to end the dispute before industrial action begins.

All myki barriers will also be left open and no passenger checks will be conducted or fines issued across the metropolitan train network on August 19 and 21.

RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch says despite further negotiations with Metro Trains, it is still a long way from securing a new enterprise agreement.

"Our members are concerned that Metro is trying to strip away hard won conditions," she says.

"The RTBU is determined to ensure this doesn’t happen and we will fight to protect and improve the conditions of our members."

More meetings are scheduled and Grigorovitch says RBTU will continue to negotiate in good faith.

"We would prefer to avoid industrial action if an agreement can be reached before next Friday.

"If agreement is not reached our members have made it clear they will proceed with industrial action."

The timing of the strike has been set outside of peak travel times to reduce public inconvenience.

Yarra Trams employees are also negotiating a new enterprise agreement and RTBU tram and bus divisional secretary Phil Altieri says there has been little progress towards a new agreement since talks began in April.

"Our members at Yarra Trams are frustrated at the lack of progress in securing a new agreement and have been left with no option but to take industrial action," he says.

The union will hold a mass meeting, followed by a midday rally at Flinders Street Station on the day of the strike.

The strike will be held from 10am to 2pm on Friday, August 21.

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