More than 300 unionists and local residents protested outside the electorate office of Liberal MP for Drummoyne John Sidoti on August 4.
Chanting “John Sidoti’s got to go!” and waving placards opposing the NSW government’s planned privatisation of public buses in the Inner West, the protest elicited much support from passing motorists and pedestrians. There was no response, however, from Sidoti’s office.
Flags from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) and the Australian Services Union (ASU) were prominent.
Secretary of Unions NSW Mark Morey said the government was determined to sell $60 million of our assets and did not care about community needs, only its corporate mates in the big end of town.
“We can win this campaign to stop the sell off of inner west buses,” he said. “Union and community campaigning has already forced the government to reverse the decision to privatise three hospitals out of the five earmarked for sale.”
RBTU delegate Ash Sarker listed the privatisations already initiated by the government and said public assets such as buses should stay in public hands. He said: “Much has been said about the possibility of driverless trains. How about we have a government run without ministers?”
AMWU delegate Darrel Hansen also spoke in solidarity, as did deputy secretary of the ASU Judith Wright. She said she was proud to be there in solidarity with the RBTU and AMWU and is convinced this campaign can be won.
President of the Bus Division of the RBTU David Woollams said the government did not have a mandate to sell the busses, calling it disgraceful and gutless. He welcomed the many community members at the protest supporting the drivers and maintenance workers from depots in the Inner West.
The response to the attempted privatisation of services is to “stand up and fight back,” Woolams told the crowd. This was taken up with chanting loud enough for those in Sidoti’s office to hear.