Following the industrial action undertaken by ACTION workshop mechanics comes word that Canberra’s bus drivers are considering taking industrial action over their enterprise bargaining agreement.
ACTION has been forced to scale back or cancel weekend bus services in recent weeks as the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) imposes overtime bans for workshop staff, resulting in bus maintenance being put on hold and ACTION management refueling buses themselves.
Buses will not run on Friday 22, Sunday 24 or Tuesday 26 April whilst a Sunday timetable will operate on Saturday 23 and Monday 25 April. Previously announced charter services to the ANZAC Dawn service will operate as normal however shuttles to the Canberra Raiders home game on Sunday and the National Folk Festival will be operated by Deanes Transit Group.
Transport Workers Union (TWU) spokesperson Klaus Pinkas said that bus drivers support their workshop colleagues and are considering their own industrial action as talks on pay and conditions have stalled.
“Industrial action is not good for a) the people who are taking it and b) the travelling public,” he said.
“It does affect services and sometimes you’ve got to take industrial action to get the message across that you want a decent offer from the government … and any offer would be good at the moment.
“Drivers and workshop staff will be out of pocket by this industrial action. But it’s something that we can live with if we can get a result out of.”
ACTION Director James Roncon apologised for the inconvenience of the canceled bus services but said they were left with no alternative.
“Unfortunately ACTION has been forced into the decision it has had to make around restricting services across the Easter weekend. It’s not a decision that has been taken lightly and it’s one we do pain over,” he said.
“ACTION actually is a seven day a week, 21 hour a day business but unfortunately it’s only recognised through the industrial agreement as a five day a week business,” he said.
“That is clear concern because what we rely on on weekends ordinarily are the goodwill of our staff to volunteer their labour. That’s clearly not sustainable and that’s part of the problem here.”
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope yesterday called upon the TWU and AMWU to agree to independent arbitration in order to resolve the ongoing dispute however the AMWU has responded by saying that conciliation should be the next step.