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Action updates

Bus drivers strike for better pay

SYDNEY — Government bus services in Sydney and Newcastle stopped for 48 hours on March 6-7, as drivers and maintenance workers took strike action over pay.

The strike was called after the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) failed to reach agreement on a new enterprise agreement.

Trevor Avery, secretary of the bus division of the NSW RTBU, told Green Left Weekly that the strike was about public transport workers keeping their pay on par with other public servants. Avery said the bus workers' last enterprise agreement awarded a 3% pay rise, while the average for other state government workers was closer to 4%.

The union has been negotiating for a new agreement for six months, and has reached agreement on all issues except a pay rise. The NSW Labor government offered a 3% increase, "but the membership said that it was not enough", said Avery.

Following the two-day stoppage, the NSW government improved its offer to a 10% increase over 18 months.

Hornsby pro-refugee protest

SYDNEY — On March 2, around 250 people protested outside immigration minister Philip Ruddock's office in Hornsby. The protest was initiated by the Greens and the Northern Refugee Action Collective. Protesters heard a great array of speakers and presented Ruddock's office with a petition before marching through Hornsby shopping mall chanting "Free the refugees".

Speakers on the day included Sister Susan Connelly of the Mary McKillop Institute, Phil Bradley from the NSW Teachers Federation, Tony Christian from ChilOut and Faikah Behardien from the Muslim Women's National Network of Australia.

From Green Left Weekly, March 13, 2002.

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