By Liam Mitchell
ADELAIDE - The state government, faced with growing resentment over its plan to reduce public transport in order to save money, has been forced to back down. But its latest proposal aims at making the drivers pay for retaining services.
The previous package, negotiated with the State Transport Authority and the Australian Tramways and Motor Omnibus Employees Association (ATMOEA), involved reducing public transport during the late evening and abolishing a number of bus routes servicing the Adelaide Hills. It also included cuts to drivers' conditions in return for a small pay rise.
The package aroused opposition from the community, and a strong move within the ATMOEA against the cuts. ATMOEA state president Tom Morgan came under fire from the rank and file for his handling of the dispute, as well as the union executive's decision to award themselves a pay rise and a superannuation increase. A mass meeting of drivers rejected the deal.
The state government's latest plans propose retaining the axed Hills routes, while decreasing the number of bus services after 10 p.m. from 106 to as few as 74.
In addition, the government and the STA intend to change drivers' rosters and abolish over-award pay and conditions. These over- award payments were maintained in the past only through trading off other award conditions. The loss to each driver would be around $3000 per year.
The ATMOEA former state president, Fred O'Neill, has attacked the union executive for its inaction over the proposals. A union spokesperson said that he did not think the STA would attack 12-hour shifts or that drivers would lose take-home pay.n