‘Real movement’: Talks progress on new bus drivers’ pay deal

Negotiations between the bus drivers’ union and Torrens Transit have progressed, with the union agreeing to call off industrial action scheduled for today.

Jan 17, 2023, updated Jan 17, 2023
Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Unionised Torrens Transit bus drivers planned to refuse to collect fares today as part of ongoing industrial action to push for better pay and conditions in their next enterprise bargaining agreement.

However, following lengthy negotiations between delegates of the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and Torrens Transit on Monday, the union withdrew their notice of industrial action for Tuesday.

Further talks are expected in a bid to avert industrial action scheduled for Wednesday. Union members are currently planning to not work any un-rostered overtime.

TWU SA branch secretary Ian Smith, who said after the last round of negotiations there had been “very little movement”, today said the union was “hopeful” it could call off Wednesday’s industrial action.

“After over six months of discussions, yesterday there was real movement towards an agreement that lets us move towards a better, safer bus industry,” Smith said in a statement.

“There is some way to go, and it’s crucial that further commitments are made quickly, but we’re hopeful of moving towards a resolution where we can remove Wednesday’s industrial action and reach agreement.

“South Australia deserves a good public transport system, and bus drivers who play an integral role in our community deserve good, safe jobs with fair pay and conditions.”

A Torrens Transit spokesperson said: “A productive meeting was held [on Monday] and we look forward to concluding the process.”

The TWU 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.

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The union is also asking for other improvements to conditions including improved weekend penalty rates, annual leave loading, enforceable four-minute turnaround times and changes to rostering to give drivers more notice about shift times.

It has also been pushing the state government to improve safety by installing new full driver protection screens on buses.

The TWU says Torrens Transit’s workforce of more than 1000 bus drivers includes more than 700 union members.

Torrens Transit and the TWU have faced public pressure from the Malinauskas Government to avoid another bus strike, after half the metropolitan bus network was brought to a standstill last Monday when unionised bus drivers walked off the job.

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