Australia: Victorian bus drivers strike over wages and conditions
13 July 2018
Nearly 500 bus drivers participated in two 24-hour strikes, today and on Tuesday, impacting 49 bus routes in Melbourne’s western and eastern suburbs and 25 services in the regional Victorian cities of Ballarat and Geelong.
The stoppages are part of a dispute between the private bus company CDC Victoria and the Transport Workers Union (TWU), over a new Enterprise Agreement covering drivers for the next three years.
The strikes are the first significant industrial action by bus drivers in Victoria in around 20 years. More than 90 percent of unionised drivers voted in favour of the stoppages. Large numbers took part in protests in Wyndham, Oakleigh, Geelong, and Ballarat on Tuesday.
The TWU is demanding a wage increase of four percent per year as well as a one percent increase in superannuation entitlements. CDC Victoria has offered a paltry 2.5 percent wage rise per annum.
Bus drivers who spoke to WSWS reporters outlined a number of their grievances, including low wages that have not kept up with the rising cost of living, long shifts beginning early in the morning, often forcing workers to leave their homes at 3.00 a.m., and stressful situations involving abusive passengers and unresolved health and safety concerns.
The TWU’s claim that a wage rise of just four percent would be “fair” is absurd. This would represent on average a $45.00 per week increase, which would be eaten up by the increased cost of essential items.
For instance, fuel increased by more than $200 per household last year, while there was a 3.4 percent increase in health costs, along with hikes in home and car insurance. Basic commodities such as fruit increased by around 9…