Bus drivers strike again

Martyrs bus drivers outside Martyrs bus service in Warburton. Picture: JED LANYON

Martyrs bus drivers from the Transport Workers Union (TWU) will walk out from the job for a second time in two weeks after unsuccessfully negotiating for a pay increase with Martyrs and Public Transport Victoria (PTV).

20 Martyrs bus drivers went on strike in Warburton on Tuesday 4 June and will be taking industrial action again on Thursday 13 June causing disruptions to school buses and the 683 public bus service from Warburton to Chirnside Park.

A statement from the TWU said its Martyrs members voted to take protected industrial action following months of negotiations and “after receiving the operator’s latest sub-standard and insulting wage offer”.

The statement said members across the state were fighting for the surety of the Bus Industry Agreement claim of a 4 per cent wage and 1 per cent superannuation increase per year for the life of the three year agreement.

Martyrs bus driver and TWU delegate Ray Corless said that they had been offered a 0.3 per cent increase on their current wages, well short of figures from the Bus Industry Agreement.

Martyrs are not the only Victorian bus operator to be negotiating wages this year as the TWU had already successfully secured the 2018 Bus Industry Agreement for over 3000 drivers for operators including CDC, Transdev, Dysons, McHarry’s and Ventura, according to the TWU statement.

A majority of the Martyrs TWU members attended the picket line from 5.30am to 5.30pm to voice their frustrations over pay.

The bus drivers were in good spirits having gathered around a fire drum to keep warm on the roadside, while passing traffic acknowledged their cause by sounding their horn.

Mr Corless apologised for the ongoing disruptions to commuters and thanked members of the community for their support as they delivered cakes, scones and chocolates to the picket line.

“It’s one of these jobs, where in a small local community, we all regard it as a community job,” he said.

“On my personal bus run, I know almost every one of the parents of the children on my bus and that’s some 50 odd children.

“On the public transport side of things, it is a tough, tough job.”

Mr Corless explained that some public bus drivers have irregular shifts and will be up for a shift at 4am one morning only for their next shift to be at 12pm the following day, making it hard to get into a regular sleeping pattern.

Mr Corless said that Martyrs staff all came to the strike in their uniforms and that they had been prepared for one phone call to say that their negotiations had been successful and that they could return to work.

“We had the opportunity through the fair work commission to go all out, to go out tomorrow, the next day and stay out until it’s resolved.

“Financially, it would be disastrous for our members. A lot of our members including myself, we work from pay check to pay check.” Mr Corless said.

“It’s not a huge wage. It’s not even adequate for what we do.”

Mail readers shared how the strike affected their day on the paper’s Facebook page, with one user commenting, “My daughter catches the bus to Lilydale from Yarra junction so I’m going to have to do two trips to Lilydale.”

Another user commented, “My 16 year old son relies on this bus service to get to and from school and to his part time job. This service has been going for many many years, it’s a valley icon and major local employment provider.”

PTV apologised for any inconvenience caused by Tuesday’s disruption.