4 February 2024

Reliable weekend bus services could be in reach after staff accept new work deal

| Ian Bushnell
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man standing in front of bus

Transport Minister Chris Steel: a new weekend timetable will begin in April. Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The long-running sore of unreliable weekend bus services could be a step closer to being fixed after drivers accepted a new work deal with the ACT Government.

The government says the new enterprise bargaining agreement with Transport Canberra drivers and workshop staff will pave the way for an increase in the frequency of scheduled Saturday afternoon bus services, planned to start in April.

Staff have agreed to new incentives for permanent bus drivers working weekend shifts, and a new clause in the agreement for a Weekend Reliability Trial also commits to further exploration of rosters during the term of the agreement.

Transport Minister Chris Steel said the trial gave permanent drivers, who completed six or more weekend details a year, a 15 per cent penalty on all hours from the seventh detail, starting on 1 July.

The Transport Workers Union rejected as tokenistic a similar deal last May aimed at boosting weekend services, but the key this time appears to be a lift in the number of drivers.

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Mr Steel said extensive recruitment meant bus drivers were now above establishment numbers.

“Combined with the new incentives in the agreement, we now have confidence that more weekend services on Saturdays can be delivered reliably,” he said.

Mr Steel said Canberrans had significantly increased their use of weekend public transport services.

Transport Canberra would now prepare a new weekend timetable to begin in April, focusing on more frequent route bus services on Saturday afternoons to meet the demand.

The new agreement also includes incentives to recognise the skill of staff who are transitioning to work on the zero-emissions fleet.

A new Electric Vehicle Technology Allowance has been added for maintenance staff in recognition of active participation in training and instruction to attain the skills to safely integrate, operate, and maintain electric fleet vehicles.

Sixty-seven per cent of eligible staff voted on the new agreement, with a 95 per cent vote in favour.

The agreement has been lodged for formal ratification by Fair Work Australia.

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GrumpyGrandpa7:27 pm 05 Feb 24

TC have only been providing 2 hourly services through the suburbs on weekends for years now and the Minister is telling us that through extra recruitment and the new EBA there will be more weekend services from April.

I note he’s not saying full services, just an increase in weekend frequency.

I’ve got a friend who is a bus driver. He told me that Action (TC) have been heavily recruiting for years, just to keep up with the number who are leaving.

He also told me that their new EBA would make bugger all difference to the the weekend bus services.

He says that by the time you’ve been driving a bus Monday-Friday; for 40-50 hours, your body needs a break. He’s had shoulder and lower back injuries and they are common in the industry. They way he out it was “Who wants to work all week, then pull an extra six, 8 or 9 hour weekend shifts to then qualify for a 15% loading?

I’m a regular bus user and it really annoys me a lot that we have such a pathetic weekend service.

We’ll see what happens in April with the new weekend services. I fear not a lot will change.

Poor Mr Steel! Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t!

I am looking forward to funny man Mark Parton releasing his party’s transport policy going into the next election this year.

I expect something good! Mr Parton has been sniping at Labor’s transport policy safely from the sidelines as opposition spokesperson over the past four years.

Mr Parton promised he would release the opposition’s policy in these very pages two years ago but instead went back home to visit mum in sleepy old York.

Chop! Chop! Mark!!

From my understanding, which may be wrong, the overtime rates that are already built into their base rate and the base rate is further supplemented by additional a further 15% penalty? Talk about double dipping! Remove the overtime rates from the base rate and pay the penalty rate to those who actually do the overtime. Problem solved.

Pay the drivers for the actual work they do, including overtime/penalties for those doing the “inconvenient shifts” – seems like a practical solution. If drivers no longer get paid overtime for cherry picking the 9-5 shifts, the ‘awkward hours’ shifts will soon have plenty of candidates.
The main issue is that it will mean a short-term increase in the ACTION salary bill, as there’s no way drivers (and of course the TWU) will agree to a reduction in the dollar amount of their base salary.

No such thing as 9-5 shifts for bus drivers.

GrumpyGrandpa7:49 pm 05 Feb 24

I have a friend who is a bus driver. Their pay rate is a composite rate, wrapping up ordinary rates, with early start, late finishes and a “reasonable” amount of “overtime”. “Overtime” just means extra hours in addition to your shift – extra work during the work or on weekends.

What this means is the “composite” rate isn’t a penalty just for weekends work. It covers everything Monday-Friday outside of 9-5 type of hours.

The “composite” rate was introduced by the government as a means of reducing the cost of managing a large workforce, all with different start and finish times. My mate would argue that some drivers, depending on their shift might get a good deal out of the “Composite” rate, others would probably get paid more under traditional “penalty” rates.

Given that the 15% penalty only applies if a driver had already worked more than 6 weekends, I don’t think it’s going to be a lot of double-dipping going on.

He also said that Super is only paid Monday-Friday and on a maximum of 38 hours a week. There is no Super paid on weekend work.

I guess everyone job different to your own, seems to be on a good wicket.

Here was me thinking the weekend was made up of Saturday and Sunday. The best Mr Steel can come up with is a potential increase in the frequency of Saturday afternoon bus services. Thanks for the laugh

Yes, pathetic isn’t it? but predictable, as he only ever does part of the job on everything. He does the bits he wants to do and announce, paying no attention to what’s actually needed.

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