The Guardian February 9, 2000


South Australian bus dispute

by Marcus Browning

TransAdelaide bus drivers are digging in their heels against the Olsen 
Coalition Government's attempt to push them into individual contracts  
Australian Workplace Agreements  which would result in a heavy loss of 
pay and conditions. The drivers, members of the Public Transport Union's 
Rail, Tram and Bus division, have had to take redundancy packages and seek 
jobs with the new private operators of Adelaide's bus service.

The operators are looking to ditch the current award wages, conditions 
(including long service and sick leave) and superannuation entitlements of 
the 1,300 TransAdelaide employees. This would result in a loss of up to 
$9,000 a year each for the workers.

In addition, the five private companies want to give get rid of 235 of the 
drivers altogether. Under the privatisation deal, the companies are leasing 
the publicly-owned TransAdelaide depots and buses from the Government.

In a joint statement last week, Public Transport Union Secretary Daryl 
Dickson and Labor Council Secretary Chris White said that the Minister had 
failed to settle the bus dispute by not guaranteeing the current award 
conditions.

"This is required by law and has occurred for other government jobs 
outsourced, such as ETSA, Water and Ports", said the statement.

The Labor Council believes that this means the whole tendering process may 
be illegal. "The industrial law on transmission of business makes it clear 
that ... the new operators cannot unilaterally reduce wages and 
conditions."

Rolling stoppages continue, the workers' anger inflamed even more at a 
meeting with Transport Minister Laidlaw last Thursday where she blamed them 
and their unions for TransAdelaide losing the service.

"TransAdelaide workers are not asking for more", says the joint statement. 
"But they do not want to be discriminated against and lose existing 
conditions.

"The private companies should be bound by existing public sector awards. 
Laidlaw knew this months ago, but deliberately provoked the issue."

Back to index page