By: Fabian Cotter

BREAKING: COVID-19 (more commonly referred to by its generic term ‘coronavirus’) was discussed by the Bus Industry Confederation (BIC) at an Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) teleconference today, it’s been announced.

Covid-19 coronavirus and the new IR award will be discussed at the BIC’s upcoming Industrial Working Group in Canberra on Wednesday, 25 March, 2020.

Industry insiders confirm to ABC magazine ( the ACCI called the tele-conference with its members to consider what responses each entity could make to minimise any possible impact of the virus.

BIC has long argued that public transport is an essential service and this might now be tested as the country heads into unchartered waters regarding the impacts of the virus, sources state.

The topic will also be discussed at the BIC’s upcoming Industrial Working Group in Canberra on Wednesday, 25 March, to consider the terms and conditions of a new Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020, affecting up to 30,000 bus drivers employed by private operators within the passenger transport industry.


Ian MacDonald, the National IR manager of APTIA (the industrial arm of the BIC) commented: "An additional matter will be raised in general business at the upcoming IWG meeting, which is a potential need for BIC's members to respond to employment issues relating to the spread of Covid-19. 

BIC executive director Michael Apps noted: "The spread of the coronavirus will test BIC's long-running campaign that public transport is an essential service, more so in testing times such as caused by Covid-19."

"APTIA is currently in talks with other industry groups about an industrial relations response should its workforce become substantially reduced," he explained.

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The new Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2020 (PVTA 2020) replaces the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010, which was part of the Award modernisation process following the introduction of the Fair Work Act in 2009, after the election of the Rudd Government, APTIA explains.

Members of BIC’s industrial working group include state association executive directors, their IR experts and other IR managers from around the BIC and APTIA membership.

"BIC created the Australian Public Transport Industrial Association’ as a registered organisation to ensure that the interests of members were protected during the four-yearly review of the PVTA. APTIA has always acted as the gate-keeper to the PVTA to ensure that the interests of our members are not overwhelmed by other stakeholders," explained Apps.

The IWG will consider a set of explanatory notes relating to the PVTA 2020 as a working tool for the industry. Legal advice is being provided to the meeting by experienced IR lawyer Tim Capelin from Piper Alderman, who has been retained to advise on the interpretations and deliberations of the IWG, BIC explains.

MacDonald added: "This set of explanatory notes will be a fifth edition since the introduction of the modern award system and will be a valuable tool for all BIC and APTIA members, who either pay under the Award or whose enterprise agreements are underpinned by the Award."



APTIA says it will focus on a range of issues in 2020, including recognition of public transport bus services as an essential service and the finalisation of the four-yearly review into the modern awards including the Passenger Vehicle Transportation Award 2010.

APTIA will monitor the 2019 decision in the Skene case. This case relates to the payment of leave entitlements to employees considered casual employees, but have a regular expectation of continued work and, therefore, entitled to such leave, it explains.

This could have significant impact on the Industry. The Skene case is now being tested in Rossato’s case in which the Federal Government has intervened, it states.


APTIA will monitor the decision in the Mondelez case, which decided that personal leave should be calculated by the day not hours. This has been appealed to the High Court and the Federal Government has intervened in this case, it says.

In both cases the Federal Industrial Relations, Minister, the Hon Christian Porter, indicated the Government will introduce legislation to overturn any decisions that impact unfairly upon employers, confirms APTIA.

The Minister for Industrial Relations has also identified a number of issues that will form the basis of any legislative changes; this includes matters specific to the passenger transport industry:

* Casual employment;

* Improving protections of employees, wages and entitlements;

* Unfair dismissals, and;

* Enterprise bargaining.

APTIA will provide submissions and input on these matters, it states.



The Australian Chamber is Australia’s largest and most representative business network, it states. Its members are state and territory chambers of commerce, national industry associations and a council of business leaders from individual enterprises, it explains.

Together, it represents Australian businesses of all shapes and sizes, across all sectors of the economy, and from every corner of the country, it adds.

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