Sydney bus strike may just happen again

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People line up at a bus stop in Buenos Aires April 9, 2014. Opposition labor unions hold a 24-hour strike to press for wage increases in line with inflation rate, estimated by private economists at more than 30 percent per year. The strike will include pu
People line up at a bus stop in Buenos Aires April 9, 2014. Reuters/Marcos Brindicci

Sydney bus drivers have warned that their 24-hour strike on Thursday may happen again. The warning is in line with the protests against the state government’s privatisation plans for the inner west.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union was “deeply apologetic” to commuters for the inconvenience brought by the strike. However, the union said it could not promise that the Thursday strike would not be followed by another.

"Sadly, we cannot commit to you that this will be the last disruption you will face over the coming months," a letter from the union reads.  The union puts the blame on Transport Minister Andrew Constance for the launch of the "outrageous attack" on the public transport system.

"If the premier does not intervene as a matter of urgency this will, indeed, be Sydney's winter of discontent,” the union said. It has further warned that Constance's plan means private operators would put profits before people.

It remains unclear if the government is going to privatise more routes. Four depots were affected by the strike, which ended on midnight. These depots were Leichhardt, Burwood, Kingsgrove and Tempe.

Commuters have been forced to look for alternative ways with no school bus services operating in the affected areas. RTBU spokesman Chris Preston said members of the public must make arrangements to be able to make it to their workplaces and take their kids to school. But 9News reports that there was one student who did not make it to his class.

People who were heading to and from Sydney Airport were advised to catch the train because the Route 400 bus service was hit by the industrial action.  Routes 438 and 461 along Parramatta Road operated as limited and modified service during morning and afternoon peak hours.

The Transport Management Centre (TMC) declared the school Opal passes would be valid on any form of public transport on Thursday. Opal fares and timetables will continue once rmasthe routes are privatised.

Meanwhile, the minister said members had shown contempt for a court ruling."They don't give a stuff about parents whose children were left stranded on bus stops this morning," news.com.au has quoted Constance as saying. He argued his plan would lead to more reliable services and existing drivers would be able to keep their positions under the private operator.

The Greens appeared to have expressed support for the strike. Mehreen Faruqi said the privatisation push was "a disaster for workers, drivers and the public.”For other news in Australia, see report from The Sydney Morning Herald below.

Read more: Minister blamed over Sydney bus strike; drivers ‘deeply apologetic’ to commuters

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The Sydney Morning Herald/YouTube