Brisbane City Council are decidedly unimpressed with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union ahead of bus strikes in Brissy scheduled for tomorrow and Wednesday morning.
Bus drivers will be striking in Virginia, Sherwood and Willawong tomorrow morning; and in Eagle Farm, Carina, Toowong and Garden City Wednesday, from 4.30 to 6.30am.
The action is expected to disrupt all routes, including school buses, until about 7.30am, with flow-on delays for the rest of the day.
There will be extra ferry services offered in lieu of buses.
Up to 35,000 early morning commuters are expected to be put out by tomorrow and Wednesday’s industrial action.
The bus drivers are striking over ongoing enterprise agreement negotiations, including pay and rostering issues and health and safety provisions, the latter especially prescient in the wake of the gruesome murder of bus driver Manmeet Alisher at the end of last year.
The Union’s assistant secretary Tom Brown points towards another recent violent attack on a council bus driver.
“Only two weeks ago we had a driver stabbed … attacks on drivers and abuse of drivers has been ongoing on a regular basis and it’s just about time we got something done.“It has been a long time, a long time, since we have taken action like this and we’re basically at our wit’s end.“We are hopeful this action will get council back to the table.”
He also says a suggested 2.5% pay increase over three years is too small for workers most in need.
Council’s public and active transport chairman, Adrian Schrinner, aka Mr CityCycle, dismisses strikers concerns:
“It is extremely disappointing that the RTBU would choose to proceed with its disruptive action, risking chaos across Brisbane’s transport network, despite council’s willingness to work with drivers on concerns about safety and pay.“
He says council plans to double funding for security guards and will be surveying drivers to figure out if they want protective screens. More improvements to workplace health and safety are expected following an independent expert review into the matter commissioned late last year.
Schrinner is most concerned, however, about the impact the strikes will have on schoolchildren.
“This action will leave up to 5000 Brisbane primary and high school students without school bus services and is in direct contravention of TransLink’s [No] Child Left Behind Policy.“Council is extremely concerned about the possible risk to student safety.”
Queensland‘s No Child Left Behind Policy came about in the wake of the abduction and murder of schoolboy Daniel Morcombe from a Sunshine Coast bus stop in 2003.