Bus drivers in Brissy are set to strike this Wednesday for the fourth time in just over a fortnight in the midst of ongoing enterprise bargaining negotiations with Brisbane City Council.
The bus drivers did not accept fares on Thursday last week, before bringing Brissy public transport to a standstill on Friday by striking during peak hour. Kate Whittle from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland estimated that Friday’s industrial action cost the economy $5.5 million in productivity because everyone just knocked off early.
Add to that up to $515K in lost fares from Thursday, as predicted by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, and you’d almost think it might be a good idea for “the economy” for the council to actually improve the working conditions of its staff. Who woulda thunk it.
That’s not to mention the delays and disruption cursing commuters since the first early morning strikes on July 18 and 19.
The bus drivers, aligned with the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, intend to strike between 10am and 2pm this Wednesday. They’ll be striking in solidarity with other council workers, also embroiled in their own enterprise bargaining negotiations, including Australian Workers’ Union and Transport Workers’ Union members.
RTBU secretary Tom Brown reckons up to 600 drivers will walk off the job on Wednesday.
The Union’s requests to council include input into rostering schedules to prevent driver fatigue and a fat 3.5% pay increase, above the council’s offer of 2.5%.
Quirk told the ABC the Union’s demands were not in line with “community expectations“:
“The additional wage level the unions are seeking would cost ratepayers about $52 million over three years.
“Council will continue discussions with the unions to ensure an acceptable outcome for workers and the ratepayers of this city.
“Council staff provide a tremendous service to the people of Brisbane and we have made a fair and reasonable wage offer in line with community expectations for the next three years.“
Brown defended the request for more cash:
“We think 3.5% is modest. It’s not going to boost wages a great deal. We have members who are already struggling to pay bills. That’s what it really comes down to.“
They’re also asking for increased security measures, following a series of attacks on employees just trying to do their jobs, including the horrific murder of bus driver Manmeet Alisher at the end of last year.
Major impacts to bus services are pretty much guaranteed, although reg services are expected to resume by 2.45pm. So just don’t get stuck in the middle of nowhere at 12.30pm and you should be right.