Sydney bus drivers protest privatisation plan

Bus drivers hand over 14,000 petitions to Opposition Leader Luke Foley and Greens transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi.

Bus drivers and supporters rallied outside Burwood Bus Depot on July 20 to oppose plans by the NSW Coalition government to privatise Inner West bus services.

At the rally, petitions containing around 14,000 signatures against the bus privatisation were handed over to Labor and Greens MPs. Petitions with more than 10,000 signatures trigger a debate in state parliament.

The government reportedly announced a call for corporate expressions of interest in the privatisation the same day.

Speakers explained that the drivers at all 12 depots had held firm against accepting the privatisation and the government had withdrawn their industrial allowance worth around $150 a week. The State Transit Authority says it will only reinstate the allowance if the drivers agree to the privatisation plan.

Labor Opposition Leader Luke Foley told the crowd: "The people know that if buses are privatised the service will suffer." He promised that an incoming Labor government would "pay you back your industrial allowance, with back pay" if they won the next election.

Greens transport spokesperson Mehreen Faruqi said the government's "privatisation madness" will mean a "massive loss" to the community. "Routes will be cut, stops will be missed," and jobs and services will be reduced, she said.

Other Labor and Greens MPs also addressed the rally, pledging support for the campaign against the bus sell-off. The campaign for more signatures against the bus privatisation is continuing, and possible further industrial action by the bus drivers is under discussion.

Rail Tram and Bus Union bus delegate Leon affirmed: "We will not back down. We will continue the fight until we win."

To sign the petition, visit the website.

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