Bus dispute far from over
THE Transport Workers’ Union says it is far from reaching an agreement with Sunbus management despite a push to end the ongoing battle by the end of the month.
Sunbus management and union representatives last week met with a commissioner from Fair Work Australia for the first time in an effort to resolve ongoing pay disputes.
The meeting was the first of a series of conciliation meetings between Transit Australia Group and the union.
A second meeting involving all parties is set to be held in Brisbane on March 15.
Workers’ union secretary Peter Biagini feared the process was doing little to reach a resolution.
‘‘ You never know what can happen at this stage but we are still poles apart,’’ he said.
‘‘ The conciliation meetings are an important step and we are hoping to get a resolution, but there is still a long way to go.
‘ ‘ I f t here i s no agreement reached at the next meeting, we will be back out in the trenches again.’’
Drivers took strike action multiple times last year in an effort to maintain current wage levels, saying the transit group was trying to reduce drivers’ pay back to the award rate of several years ago.
Tempers f l ared after negotiations between the union and Sunbus’ parent company broke down. The union has filed two applications with Fair Work Australia seeking bargaining orders against Transit Australia Group.
The group’s communications ma n a g e r C h e r i e B e a u mo n t - Tyson said negotiations were continuing to improve.
‘‘ We obviously haven’t reached a solution at this stage but we are edging closer,’’ she said.
‘‘ We are optimistic and continue to negotiate in faith.
‘‘ The meeting in Brisbane is the next step in the conciliation process and we look forward to holding further discussions.’’
Townsville bus drivers recently agreed to drop a planned stopwork action on the eve of Australia Day celebrations to avoid any inconvenience to passengers.
The decision was made amid a protest against a proposed pay increase of 20c a year.
The action followed a 48-hour strike in Townsville after ongoing negotiations over t he drivers’ new enterprise agreements soured. will good