Opal machines will be reportedly down today for bus services in Sydney’s south-west and inner-west as part of a workers’ campaign for better and equal pay.
Region 3 of the Sydney Metropolitan Bus Service encompasses Parramatta, Liverpool, and the Fairfield area. Region 6 stretches over the Sydney CBD, Chatswood, Bondi Junction, Tempe, Burwood, and Sydney Olympic Park. Both are run by a company called Transit Systems.
Per the Sydney Morning Herald, drivers in the two regions will be taking part in a strike after workers have been allegedly met with a “two-tiered” pay system. According to BusNews, a majority of drivers in these two areas voted in favour of today’s Opal strike – 97 per cent and 92 per cent respectively.
The industrial action is led by members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, as well as the Transport Workers Union. TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen told the SMH that if you’re catching a bus in either region today, “you can leave your Opal card in your wallet”.
“They’re not asking for much, all drivers want is a guarantee that whether you’re driving a bus in Liverpool or in Leichhardt, you will be paid the same regardless,” they said.
RTBU NSW bus division secretary David Babineau said as more transport services were privatised, it’s likely we’ll see more workers taking similar industrial action.
“This is what happens when public transport is privatised and run for profit,” he said.
“The public is robbed of their reliable services and workers are robbed of their pay and conditions.”
A spokesperson for Transit Systems told the Sydney Morning Herald that the service will “operate on normal timetables” today with the majority of buses having their Opal machines turned on.
“We have undertaken nine separate negotiation meetings, of which, the TWU attended only one and the RTBU attended just four.”
NSW Transport Minister Rob Stokes reportedly met with union officials earlier this month. According to a spokesperson for NSW Transport, via the SMH, negotiations are currently underway, and the company has been answering workers’ questions on a twice-a-week basis.
“As action is yet to take place we will assess the impact on Opal revenue in due course,” they said yesterday.
PEDESTRIAN.TV has reached out to the NSW branch of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union as well as Transport Workers Union and Transit Systems for comment.