Brisbane's morning bus strike to go into second day

 brisbanetimes.com.au  7/18/2017 6:24:00 AM 

Brisbane's early-morning bus commuters should make alternative transport arrangements for Wednesday as bus drivers prepare to walk off the job for the second day in a row.

On Tuesday, several bus drives based at Virginia, Sherwood and Willawong depots refused to get behind the wheel of scheduled services between 4.30am and 6.30am as they fought for better pay and safety conditions.

On Wednesday morning, drivers from Carina, Garden City, Toowong and Eagle Farm are expected to strike for the same two-hour block.

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said Tuesday's industrial action was not bad as expected.

The Brisbane City Council had previously warned of about 35,000 commuters and 5000 schoolchildren to be affected by the driver strike.

"What we have seen is about half the drivers in those depots turn up for work where industrial action was occurring," Cr Quirk said on Tuesday.

"So it wasn't as bad as expected, but obviously there were impacts, there were delays."

Rail, Transport and Bus Union secretary Tom Brown said the idea of dividing the striking depots over two days was to minimise disruption. 

"Services will still run as services run out of different depots and even the depots that have been targeted there will be non-union people doing some of the work," he said.

The council's public transport chairman, Adrian Schrinner, said he had tried to reach an agreement prior to the strike by making an offer of a 2.5 per cent pay rise, back-pay, a $400 signing bonus as well as increasing security guards on the network.

"Unfortunately they said no deal, so it's back to square one unfortunately," Cr Schrinner said. 

"Ultimately going forward we believe that the pay offer is fair, the rostering issue is off the table. 

"We don't want a Queensland Rail situation in Brisbane Transport. That wouldn't be a good outcome either for the rate payers or the passengers that travel on our buses.

"So, ultimately, this is about safety for us. It's our number one priority and that's why we've put our safety initiatives on the table yesterday.

"That's the key concern and something that we've been willing to negotiate on and today [Tuesday] we've been to the union to tell them we are willing to negotiate further on safety issues.

"When it comes to those other EBA matters though the offer is clear, it is fair and generous and now the ball is in the union's court."

Mr Brown said progress had been made because, a week ago, the council would not even budge on safety.

"If they'd turned around and done that nine months ago they could have saved 20 or 30 bus drives from getting assaulted," he said.

"We are happy to negotiate safety any time, any where.

"If that saves one of our members, we're happy with it. But we will see about them budging on the 2.5 per cent."

Cr Schrinner said Brisbane bus drivers were the best paid in Queensland and the second-best in Australia. 

"We believe we have a fair offer on the table," he said.

Labor Opposition leader Peter Cumming said Cr Quirk's decision to offer increased security guards on Tuesday showed it could have been done earlier.

"It's shameful. After telling us for nine months it can't be done, they've made it happen with the stroke of a pen," Cr Cumming said.

"It just underlines that instead of playing politics with drivers' lives, Quirk could have acted immediately."

Commuters are encouraged to plan ahead of Wednesday's bus driver strikes, by checking the TransLink app, website or contacting 13 12 30 for up-to-date information and make alternative arrangements if necessary.

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