Thursday 24 August, 2023
The following statement can be attributed to Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Tasmanian Secretary Ric Bean:
The reduction in Metro services announced today is the inevitable result of the absolute failure of Metro management and the Tasmanian Liberal Government to address long-standing workplace concerns over safety, pay and working conditions at Metro Tasmania.
There is nothing worse in public transport than leaving passengers stranded by the side of road, waiting for a service that will never come.
But this situation has happened time and time again, right throughout the year, because Metro has failed to take the necessary steps to address the declining number of bus drivers in its ranks.
Sadly, any improvements in reliability from the new timetable will come at the expense of service frequency. Fewer services will particularly hurt young people, people on low incomes, and other disadvantaged Tasmanians who rely on public transport to get around.
The RTBU has been warning Metro since early 2021 that continuing high levels of staff turnover would eventually send the organisation into a death spiral.
Metro management have ignored workforce issues for too long, burying their heads in the sand while offering token gestures such as a $50 bonus to staff who recruited a friend. Now this failure has come home to roost in a big way.
Metro and the State Government must get moving on improvements to safety and security, such as the promised introduction of permanent Transit Officers and the roll-out of security screens.
They urgently need to tackle the lack of trust between management and drivers, so drivers feel more supported in their workplace.
With negotiations for the next Enterprise Bargaining Agreement to commence early next year, Metro will need to significantly improve pay and conditions in order to attract the level of staff that it needs.
For example, three levels of bus drivers are currently being paid at the minimum Award rate – this needs to be significantly improved.
We can only hope that today’s humiliating announcement acts a turning point for Metro and the State Government. Metro Tasmania can and must turn itself around, and be the publicly-owned bus company that all Tasmanians want it to be.
Ric Bean 0418 596 600 / email@example.com