Chief Minister and Minister for Transport Jon Stanhope has written to transport unions encouraging them to agree to independent arbitration following months of negotiations with no clear way forward in sight.

The Government has been negotiating with the Transport Workers Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, which represent the ACTION workforce, to provide flexible workplace practices which would allow the Government to provide improved public transport services for Canberrans in exchange for a 2.5 per cent pay increase and a $650 sign-on bonus.

“Since the bargaining process commenced almost 18 months ago, the Government has made a number of significant concessions in what it was seeking, however the unions have repeatedly refused to budge from their position,” Mr Stanhope said.

“It is a matter of enormous regret to the Government that the AMWU and the TWU have not been prepared to compromise on any of the issues under negotiation as we strive to create a public transport system for the 21st century.

“In order to resolve this, the Government has encouraged the unions to pursue arbitration through Fair Work Australia. However, both unions have repeatedly rejected this offer.

“The Government is now calling on the unions to agree to put the negotiations to an independent arbitrator and be bound by the recommendations of the arbitrator.

“The Government is inviting the unions to put forward the names of three people who could be considered for appointment as the arbitrator and the Government will do likewise with the preferred person agreed on by all parties.

“Independent arbitration has been used previously and led to a successful outcome in deciding pay outcomes for teachers in 2006 following a similar bout of negotiations between the Government and the Australian Education Union. The Government has precedent in accepting the views of independent advice in such matters and we are calling on the AMWU and the TWU to do the same here.

“The protracted negotiations and uncertainty for both the bus travelling public an ACTION staff simply cannot continue. I urge the unions to accept the Government’s offer of appointing an independent arbitration committee.”