Opal machines to be turned off on Sydney buses amid industrial dispute
By Tom Rabe https://www.smh.com.au/by/tom-rabe-h1f8u2
November 21, 2021 — 6.00pm
Opal machines will be turned off on thousands of bus services across Sydney’s west and inner west on Monday amid an ongoing industrial dispute.
The action will occur in regions three and six and is likely to leave a sizeable dent in farebox revenue as drivers switch off their Opal card readers for 24 hours.
Private bus operator Transit Systems runs the two regions, which service Parramatta, Liverpool and Fairfield as well as the entire inner west.
Bus drivers across Sydney’s west and inner west will turn their Opal machines off for 24 hours amid an ongoing pay dispute.
Bus drivers across Sydney’s west and inner west will turn their Opal machines off for 24 hours amid an ongoing pay dispute.Credit:Renee Nowytarger
Members for both the Rail, Tram and Bus Union as well as the Transport Workers Union will take part in the action, which members say has come about over a “two-tiered” pay system.
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TWU NSW state secretary Richard Olsen said many commuters in the two regions wouldn’t need to pay for their trips on Monday.
“To anyone getting on a bus in Sydney’s south-west and inner west tomorrow, you can leave your Opal card in your wallet,” he said.
“They’re not asking for much, all drivers want is a guarantee that whether you’re driving a bus in Liverpool or in Leichhardt, you will be paid the same regardless.”
But a Transit Systems spokeswoman said they anticipated many of the services would keep their Opal readers on for the day.
“All buses will operate on normal timetables tomorrow, and we anticipate that the majority of buses will have the Opal machines turned on,” they said.
“We have undertaken nine separate negotiation meetings, of which, the TWU attended only one and the RTBU attended just four.”
RTBU NSW bus division secretary David Babineau said the government’s move to privatise transport services would result in more industrial action across the city.
“This is what happens when public transport is privatised and run for profit. The public are robbed of their reliable services and workers are robbed of their pay and conditions,” Mr Babineau said.
The NSW government was on Sunday working to ensure that there were no impacts to services on Monday. Transport Minister Rob Stokes met with the union officials about the matter earlier this month.
The action is the latest in a series of industrial measures taken by the city’s transport workers as many renegotiate their pay conditions.
Rail workers last month stopped operating almost all of the state’s trains https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/transport-chaos-predicted-for-sydney-ahead-of-train-strike-20211019-p591b6.html, throwing the network into disarray amid a pay and safety dispute.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said negotiations were taking place between the unions and private operator, and the agency’s priority was to ensure commuters weren’t impacted by the industrial action.
“As action is yet to take place we will assess the impact on Opal revenue in due course,” the spokeswoman said.
A Transit Systems spokeswoman said the company had communicated “extensively” with its employees through twice-weekly question and answer updates.