Image: An empty bus stop on Parramatta Road
Bus drivers have warned their 24-hour strike action protesting privatisation plans in Sydney's inner-west and south won't be the last if Premier Gladys Berejiklian doesn't step in and take over from Transport Minister Andrew Constance.
Thousands of workers and school kids were left stranded and confused yesterday after 1200 drivers took the action despite the Industrial Relations Committee ordering them back to work.
In an open letter, the union has apologised for the delays and inconvenience caused, but can't rule out it being the last time we seek a lack of buses on the roads.
"Sadly, we cannot commit to you that this will be the last disruption you will face over the coming months."
Union secretary Chris Preston also alluding to the strike action being wider felt across Sydney if the State Government doesn't take drivers seriously.
"Now we're talking about Region 6 with 1200 bus drivers, we still have another 2500 bus drivers in the other three regions who today feel that they have an uncertain future, so this could escalate, it could be a winter of discontent unless Premier Berejiklian wants to step in - you know Minister Constance seems to need help with this matter."
Read the open letter below:
"Dear Sydney Commuters,
We are deeply apologetic for causing you delays and inconvenience with our 24-hour work stoppage on the 18th of May.
We appreciate you have busy lives and the struggle to get to work and the kids to school would have been made extremely difficult by our actions.
Causing our commuters such inconvenience is not something we take lightly. But the outrageous attack on our public transport system by Minister Constance is so serious we were compelled to act.
Sadly, we cannot commit to you that this will be the last disruption you will face over the coming months. If the Premier does not intervene as a matter of urgency this will, indeed, be Sydney’s winter of discontent.
On Monday, without warning, without consulting any public transport worker or a single Sydneysider Minister Constance announced that he would fully privatise one third of Sydney’s entire public bus network.
This will affect a massive area of our city, including tens of thousands of commuters who’ll face disruption and 1,200 public transport workers who’ll lose their jobs.
We oppose the privatisation of public transport because we know that at the end of the day, it’s you the commuters who’ll pay.
Private operators put profits before people.
In the UK, the privatisation of public buses has led to chronic delays, infrequency, poor punctuality, increased fares and reduced travel outside of peak times.
Here in Sydney, once our buses are sold off we can expect the rolling closure of routes and the removal of bus stops in our neighbourhoods.
We don’t believe that Minister Constance will stop with the privatisation of just one third of Sydney public buses either. Once those are gone, does any believe he won’t privatise the rest of Sydney’s public bus system?
And once that’s gone, we know that our trains will be next.
Not once was the wholesale privatisation of the public transport system mentioned by the NSW Liberals. Not at the last election and at no time since then. Not until Monday afternoon.
Minister Constance cannot expect to sell off our public assets without first consulting the people who own them, you the people of Sydney. And yet, that is exactly what he has done.
So, we ask you to join with us in opposing the privatisation of your public transport system.
We’re in this for the long haul and we need your support.
Please join our campaign at www.ourtransport.org.au
Sydney Bus Drivers"