300 bus drivers striking in Newcastle today

Strike action escalates today between Keolis Downer and it’s Newcastle bus drivers

300 bus drivers striking in Newcastle today
Keolis Downer bus drivers taking action (RTBU Express)

Reports have emerged that today more than 300 bus drivers from the New South Wales city of Newcastle will strike for 24 hours in a continued battle over enterprise agreements.

The same drivers previously protested on Friday June 3, walking off the job for four hours to escalate action against employer Keolis Downer.

The tension between the employer and its workers centres around a suggested enterprise agreement that offered a 10 per cent pay increase over four years to its drivers.

The EA was unanimously rejected as the suggested agreement would make wages sit well below the rate of inflation and could even result in slashed wages.

An in-principle agreement is on the table between the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and Keolis Downer if the latter changes the EA to instead offer a seven per cent pay increase over two years.

"A seven per cent increase over two years to help offset cost-of-living pressures is a fair ask from drivers who just want to earn a decent living wage," RTBU NSW tram and bus division president Daniel Jaggers says.

Multiple anonymous workers have come out in recent years, talking to the World Socialist Web Site about the lack of action taken by Keolis Downer.

RELATED ARTICLE: Newcastle bus drivers to strike

Drivers say nothing came of the initial June 3 strike, as management has told workers to work more overtime and drive on Sundays to earn more money if required.

The workers say the offer handed down by Keolis Downer would result in a significant wage cut for workers due to the current price of inflation.

Following today’s strike, drivers say limited industrial action is scheduled, including a ban on fare collection from tomorrow.

The RTBU says Keolis Downer has raised major concerns about this ban, with the company potentially refusing or docking pay if they follow through with the action.

Keolis Downer has allegedly said in a bulletin message that it is looking to implement the same three per cent deal it agreed to with ferries last year, despite bus drivers disagreeing with the change.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ABC e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by liking us on Facebook