Negotiations resume to avoid second Adelaide bus strike

The bus drivers’ union and Torrens Transit are scheduled to meet today to resume negotiations on a new enterprise bargaining agreement, amid the threat of further strike action disrupting the metropolitan bus network.

Jan 16, 2023, updated Jan 16, 2023
Adelaide Metro bus drivers on King William Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Adelaide Metro bus drivers on King William Street. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

The Transport Workers Union (TWU) will resume talks with Torrens Transit at 10am today as it presses its demands for better pay and conditions for Torrens Transit bus drivers.

The Department for Infrastructure and Transport will also be present at today’s meeting.

The three parties last met on Tuesday, January 10, in a six-hour meeting in which the union said there was “very little movement” in negotiations.

The TWU has refused to rule out further strike action if negotiations are not successful after hundreds of unionised bus drivers walked off the job last Monday, disrupting more than two-thirds of the metropolitan bus network.

The union also says its members will no longer collect passenger fares from Tuesday and will not work any un-rostered overtime from Wednesday if Torrens Transit doesn’t come back with a “comprehensive, reasonable offer”.

The union is asking Torrens Transit to pay bus drivers more than $32 per hour. According to Torrens Transit, the current hourly rate is $28.58, although the TWU has claimed the average wage for some new drivers is as low as $25.70 per hour.

Torrens Transit’s offer of a 5.75 per cent increase and 0.25 per cent super increase was unchanged last week. Transport Department CEO Jon Whelan said after the previous meeting that “whilst the union have put their demands on the table, Torrens Transit have to be given the ability to come back to the union”.

“That’ll occur Monday,” Whelan told reporters.

“We believe that if both parties are collaborative, we can avoid any further action.”

The Department has also offered to roll out new full driver protection screens across the metropolitan bus network to address driver concerns about safety.

Whelan said last week the Department would hold a roundtable with the union, Torrens Transit and other Adelaide bus companies to select the new safety screens before they are rolled out “over the next two to three years”.

Currently, all government-owned buses have a three-quarter safety screen installed.

TWU SA branch assistant secretary Sam McIntosh said on Thursday: “We thank the department for their constructive role with that, but we’ve got a way to go.

“It’s just one part of security though, we need more security across the network,” he told reporters.

“We need to know that those routes in particular where drivers are routinely put at risk are covered with additional security or any security because there’s currently nothing.”

The TWU says it has more than 700 members working for Torrens Transit in a company workforce of more than 1000 people.

Torrens Transit operates the East-West, Outer North East (which includes the O-Bahn), North-South (which includes the CBD) and Outer North bus contract regions.

The state government estimates that last Monday’s strike action meant half of the metropolitan bus network was not operating.

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