The Guardian February 2, 2000


SA bus drivers' action

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union in South Australia intends to fight back 
against job losses which have resulted from the privatisation of Adelaide's 
bus service. There was a cruel irony in the announcement the day after 
Australia Day by the Transport Minister, Diana Laidlaw, that as of April 
all routes will be run by five private, mostly foreign-owned, operators, 
with 235 drivers being thrown out of work.

A mass meeting of bus and rail workers on Monday voted for a series of 
rolling strikes.

The depots and buses remain in government hands and are to be leased to the 
private companies which were given the contracts in a tendering process 
heavily weighted against the public service provider, TransAdelaide, which 
was awarded no contracts.

All TransAdelaide drivers will be offered redundancy packages, after which 
they will have to apply for a job with the private operators.

The contracts are for ten years. They nail the lid on a privatisation push 
begun in 1995 when a tendering process saw TransAdelaide lose 24 percent of 
routes.

In these current contracts there is a stipulation that extra daily services 
be provided, including at weekends, but the culling of 235 drivers is a 
strong indication that not only won't services be increased, they will be 
reduced.

Furthermore, the 10 years of wages that would have been earned by the 
discarded drivers adds up to around $70 million, the amount the Government 
is trumpeting as the big saving delivered by the privatisation.

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