Newcastle bus drivers take action over pay dispute

Bus drivers, members of the Rail Tram and Bus Union, in Wickham Park on June 3. Photo: Niko Leka

Newcastle bus drivers struck for four hours over a pay dispute on June 3.

At a well-attended rally in Wickham Park drivers voiced their concern with operator Keolis Downer (KD), which they said was more interested in returning a profit to shareholders than providing a public service.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said KD’s latest offer was insufficient and they were fed up with the transport company’s attitude.

“They want to achieve profit off our backs,” said one union member. He said KD’s contract specified it could cancel up to 120 runs a month without paying any penalties. “But they are cancelling up to 90 services a week and just writing ‘COVID-19’ as the reason so they don’t get penalized,” the unionist said.

RTBU members resolved to campaign for a 7% pay rise over two years. The New South Wales Coalition government privatised Newcastle’s buses in 2017.