Victorian bus drivers pushed into taking strike action

Bus drivers need wage certainty, and have been pushed into taking strike action. Photo: TWU/Facebook

Bus drivers employed by CDC Victoria began industrial action on July 10 with a 24-hour strike. They have since followed this up with two 4-hour stop works over the past two weeks.

Drivers have taken industrial action across all six bus depots in Victoria with the support of the Transport Workers Union Vic/Tas branch.

CDC Victoria’s parent company, ComfortDelGro, is one of the largest land transport companies in the world. It operates in seven countries, with a fleet of more than 42,500 vehicles, including buses, taxis, rail, car rental and leasing services. Last year CDC’s Australian income was about $420 million, with a growth of 30% in Ballarat alone.

CDC’s greed has driven Victorian bus drivers to take strike action for the first time in 20 years.

CDC’s bargaining offer to the Victorian Bus Industry agreement was just 2.5%, comprising two salary increases of 1% and a superannuation increase of 0.5%. This is at a time when wage growth has stagnated to its lowest point since World War II.

Victorian bus driver pay rises over the past 15 years have been determined on the basis of annual wage growth. CDC’s current wage offer is less than the previous 12 average annual wage increases that Victorian bus drivers have received.

Transport Workers Union Vic/Tas branch secretary and national vice president John Berger said: “Many bus drivers, like many bus passengers, pay mortgages or rent, taxes, rates and school fees and have continually increasing grocery and utility bills. They want wage certainty and the current annual wage growth system has been too unreliable.”

Berger went on to say that “Victorian bus drivers have not taken strike action for 20 years but there comes a time when you have to look after yourself and these drivers have drawn a line in the sand. We have also signed up many new members from CDC in recent days who want to join their colleagues in the fight for a decent wage.”

CDC Victoria bus drivers are planning to escalate industrial action by refusing to collect fares or switch on Myki card readers from July 21. Drivers will also not be wearing uniforms from the same date.