Major disruptions to inner west buses ahead of train driver,teacher strikes

Rolling strike action will reach a crescendo on Tuesday when bus drivers in parts of Sydney and train drivers and teachers across NSW all walk off the job.

Inner west commuters faced major disruption on Monday as 60 bus routes were impacted by 24-hour industrial action taken by about 1200 drivers and members of the Rail,Tram and Bus Union and Transport Workers Union NSW.

Union member bus drivers stopped work for 24 hours in Sydney’s inner west region on Monday,with a further strike in the south-west planned for Tuesday.

Union member bus drivers stopped work for 24 hours in Sydney’s inner west region on Monday,with a further strike in the south-west planned for Tuesday.Dean Sewell

Inner west light rail replacement bus services,in lieu of thefleet of decommissioned cracked trams,were not impacted.

Similar action will follow on Tuesday with a 24-hour strike by about 300 drivers in south-west Sydney,at the Smithfield and West Hoxton depots in region three of the network.

The following routes between Parramatta,Liverpool and Bonnyrigg could be impacted on Tuesday:800,801,802,803,804,805,806,807,808,809,812,813,814,815,816,817,818,819,820,821,822,823,824,827,835,810X,811X,S10 and T80.

Drivers are seeking equal pay and conditions in their negotiations with operator Transit Systems,asking that those “doing the same job should get the same pay” after privatisation of Sydney’s buses created a two-tier workforce,the TWU says.

The strike action at Burwood bus depot on Monday morning.

The strike action at Burwood bus depot on Monday morning.Dean Sewell

“We understand the inconvenience this may cause some members of the public,and it’s not a decision the drivers take lightly,but we are confident the community will understand drivers have been left with no other option to have their voices heard,” TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen said.

A Transit Systems spokesperson claimed some bus drivers,including those unwilling to take part in the industrial action,had been blocked from leaving the depot on Monday.

“Once again,the unions are placing their members who are not supporting the action and other drivers under unnecessary pressure,in addition to confusing the community,” the spokesperson said.

Transport for NSW said negotiations on a proposed enterprise agreement were between Transit Systems and its employees,and the government agency’s priority was to ensure the minimum impact to customers by any industrial action.

NSW bus drivers begin 24-hour strike over an ongoing pay dispute.

RTBU members will also refuse to man “foreign-made” trains on Tuesday,which the union anticipates will affect75 per cent of trains across the public transport network.

Transport for NSW said trains would run to a reduced frequency on Tuesday,from first service until last service on the Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink network,with significant delays and some cancellations expected.

“Trains will run every 30 minutes on some Sydney Trains suburban lines,and services will be stopping at all stations so customers should expect longer journey times,” it said.

NSW TrainLink chief executive Dale Merrick said the organisation had been notified union members would repeat the industrial action on December 14,leading to further disruption to the state’s train network.

“It’s incredibly disappointing ... that we’re seeing ongoing disruption due to industrial action,” he said

“We are about the six-month mark for enterprise bargaining and we’ve met over 40 times.

“It’s disappointing that even though we are at the table bargaining the unions continue to disrupt the customers in this way.”

Buses will replace trains between Lidcombe and Bankstown on the T3 Bankstown line.

Intercity services will run to a weekend timetable on the Blue Mountains,Central Coast and Newcastle lines,while buses will replace South Coast Line trains between Wollongong and Kiama,Port Kembla and Thirroul.

The RTBU is calling for a 3.5 per cent pay increase,while the government is offering 0.3 per cent in the first year of the new deal,and 2.5 per cent thereafter.

Meanwhile,public school teachers are set to stagetheir first 24-hour strike in almost a decade on Tuesday,amid rising anger about increasing workloads,stagnating pay and staff shortages.

Union memberswill rally in Macquarie Street while country teachers will gather in regional centres,calling for a pay rise of 5 per cent a year and two extra hours of planning time each week.

On Monday morning,NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos told 2GB radio that the Tuesday protest action would continue.

“The teacher shortages are too large and the underlying issues,the cause of those shortages – the uncompetitive salaries and the unsustainable workloads – too great for teachers and principals not to act,” he said.

Mr Gavrielatos apologised to parents and carers for the disruption,as the school term nears its end.

“It’s not ideal,I get it,but we’ve been going at this for 18 months with the government,” he said.

“Tomorrow’s disruption will pale into insignificance given the shortages that are already upon us and the looming shortages which will disrupt education for students every day into the future.”

The Department of Education has urged the planned strike to be called off,noting it isagainst an order from the Industrial Relations Commission.

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Sarah McPhee is a breaking news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.

Daniella White is a reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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