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Union pushes for service cuts as Libs call for free weekend travel

Lachlan Roberts 4 August 2019 29

Transport Workers Union said the Government should cut some of its weekend services. Photo: Region Media.

Transport Workers Union said there is no quick solution to Canberra’s shortage of weekend bus drivers and is calling on the ACT Government to start cutting services.

Nearly a fifth of Canberra’s bus services did not run on the past two weekends due to a shortage of drivers, which comes as no surprise to the union.

Transport Workers Union ACT spokesperson Klaus Pinkus said the ACT Government was told two years ago there were not enough bus drivers for the new network but failed to hire more. Mr Pinkus said the notion that this is a surprise to the Government is “rubbish”.

“I think the ACT Government is looking at cutting weekend services pretty seriously,” Mr Pinkus told Region Media. “We think the Monday to Friday service is pretty good and overall it’s working pretty well.

“The weekend service is a problem and we flagged that when we first heard about how much they wanted to grow the service two years ago. We haven’t got the staff to do it.

“We could have everybody working at full capacity and you still probably would not be able to fill the weekend. They need to recruit but that takes time.”

Transport Canberra said that on average over 91.30 per cent of services have been delivered on the weekends since the beginning of May, but during the past two weekends only 82 per cent of services ran.

Bus drivers are not forced to work weekends and are instead required to work a “reasonable number” of weekend shifts. If they choose to work weekends, they are paid the same as if it were a weekday.

“There have been plenty of discussions about penalties on the weekend,” he said. “In the end, it was decided that they didn’t want to go that way. It is what it is.

“The fundamental problem isn’t the pay rates, it isn’t the compulsory or non-compulsory weekends. The fundamental problem is that we do not have enough drivers.”

The Liberals believe Mr Steel should consider paying drivers penalty rates on weekends.

Canberra Liberals spokesperson Candice Burch said the Government needs to make weekend travel free until the service was fixed.

“Since the commencement of the new bus network, we have seen hundreds of service failures every weekend,” Ms Burch said. “People are waiting at bus stops up to an hour for services they don’t know are not going to show up.

“We are calling on the Government to make weekend services free until at such a point where they have resolved all of these issues. It is unfair that people are paying for services that are unreliable.

“The Government is making very little progress to fix this problem and they are still referring to it as teething issues. Free weekend services are not a solution to the problem but it will increase the incentive to find a solution.”

Transport Canberra said that patrons should check the NXTBUS app 90 minutes before their journey, as Ms Burch criticised Transport Minister Chris Steel for not releasing a list of bus services that will fail to show up.

Ms Burch said Mr Steel should consider paying drivers penalty rates on weekends.

“Recruiting bus drivers is not going to solve this problem,” Ms Burch said. “We think that the Government needs to look at all options here and whether that is including penalty rates or some kind of financial incentive for bus drivers to work on weekends.

“The Government should have seen this coming before they promised all these weekend services under the new network. More frequent weekend services were one of the Government’s key promises under the new network and it is something they have failed to deliver on.”


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29 Responses to
Union pushes for service cuts as Libs call for free weekend travel
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maxblues 4:10 am 07 Aug 19

A very Canberra problem. Other cities don’t seem to have a problem getting busses to run on weekends.

10:29 pm 05 Aug 19

With all the inconsistency is buses ...it won’t encourage more patronage 😒

Capital Retro 9:24 am 05 Aug 19

“……sold off to a Singapore company.” Like the efficiently operated bus service across the border?

I would support that.

gooterz 8:03 am 05 Aug 19

Driverless trams

5:23 am 05 Aug 19

I wounder if the union has learnt anything ? With a stroke of a pen it could all be privatized and sold off to a Singapore company.

    4:37 pm 05 Aug 19

    Paul South doesn’t need to be sold. Most governments these days own the buses, set the timetable and collect the fares and just contract out the running of the buses and the depots.

    In fact the way the government setup Transport Canberra a few years back make it dead easy as essentially all Action does these days is provide the drivers and maintenance staff.

12:25 am 05 Aug 19

Perhaps Andrew Barr and the ACT Legislative Assembly could do these shifts.. about time they earned their money seeving the community!

10:22 pm 04 Aug 19

I wonder if increased penalty rates would help?

7:26 pm 04 Aug 19

I doubt that free bus travel is a panacea for a bus that doesn't show up. How much is that light rail costing again??

7:14 pm 04 Aug 19

A previous article stated that bus drivers have to give 12 months notice for annual leave, in this article the TWU said they warned the government 24months ago this would be an issue. Why does this government always wait for things to go wrong before they react? They should be more proactive and less reactive.

6:33 pm 04 Aug 19

I wonder who’s head is gunna roll over this

6:20 pm 04 Aug 19

Make them work every alternate weekend

6:19 pm 04 Aug 19

Unions don’t care about the rest of us.

6:19 pm 04 Aug 19

It was always going to be an unserviceable network... no practical plans and they never want drivers input... it was never going to work...

6:13 pm 04 Aug 19

Yet there is a massive oversupply of Uber and taxi drivers all who drive for a fraction of what act bus drivers get. Lack of drivers and lack of penalty pay is clearly not the problem.

6:10 pm 04 Aug 19

The TWU IS the problem and they have the Barr govt over a barrel. Reduce their stranglehold and modernise our public transport system.

    7:08 pm 04 Aug 19

    Is not drivers its trying to run service where they needed i was civic waiting for no 6 to narrabundah 8 no 4 came all empty Better services more buses should be No Buses it SHOULDN'T be like this i know lots drivers, they know where the buses should be running but this barr government wont listen to the Drivers ? Worked at when was called Action buses some Facebook say they think they know how to fix the system great for the boycotting this election 18,000 nevertheless voted good work 🐪🐫⚰⚰⚰

6:10 pm 04 Aug 19

Easy. Renegotiate your EBA so there are penalty rates on weekends. Of course that means that you’d have to tell your members that they’ll lose money working Monday to Friday and you couldn’t possibly do that.

    7:22 pm 04 Aug 19

    Ben Jones Maybe he curreent drivers just prefer to some time with their spouses and children in the weekend ... no penalty rate is going to sort that. (But shorter shifts might).

    7:24 pm 04 Aug 19

    Kytie Mclign I’m not saying that he drivers have to work weekends but there needs to be a reward or incentive for this who do.

    It means those who work Monday to Friday then have to sacrifice some to make that happen.

    But, it won’t ....

6:08 pm 04 Aug 19

And if services get cut, who will suffer? What side of town misses out? What were the figures, under the old timetable?

6:03 pm 04 Aug 19

I have a quick solution, get rid of the TWU! If bus drivers get to choose if they work on weekends so should nurses and police officers. Bus driving is not a 9-5 Monday to Friday job!

    7:15 pm 04 Aug 19

    Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins well that’s what they where promised when they applied so you can’t just come and take those those rights off individuals!

    7:20 pm 04 Aug 19

    Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins The TWU isn't telling drivers what to do, it is simply relaying their views - so getting rid of the TWU means we have less knowledge of drivers concerns and preferences.

    7:33 pm 04 Aug 19

    Alex Troy Elsworth Adkins apparently it is

JC 5:30 pm 04 Aug 19

Here is a quick fix.

Any driver that refuses to work “a reasonable amount of weekend work” as per their EBA, take away their composite pay (which includes penalties for afterhours and weekend work) and pay them a base rate only.

More drivers isn’t the fix. The fix is to get the existing drivers to work the hours they are getting paid for with their composite pay.

And for those that don’t know what composite pay is, it is another way of paying penalties for shift workers but is simplified as it is a fixed percentage of base pay for all hours work, regardless of when those hours are worked. The main benefit is it simplifies the cost of processing and mistakes on behalf of the worker filling out a time sheet and in processing that time sheet.

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