Bus dis­pute far from over

Townsville Bulletin - - News - by Ryan Mathe­son ryan. mathe­son@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

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.

Peter Bi­agini

‘ ‘ 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

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