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(en) Australia, Welcome to Sparks online! II. (2/2)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>(http://matilda.xoasis.com/sparks/)
Date Wed, 13 Nov 2002 04:38:29 -0500 (EST)


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SPARKS: Latest edition http://matilda.xoasis.com/sparks/archive.htm II (2/2)

TRAIN DRIVERS' NEWS
I recently ran across a senior train driver who told me quite an
interesting tale. He and 24 other drivers in the same age break up of
55 years and above had been given on the sly packages, a few weeks
ago. The drivers had been enticed to take the packages with talk of
the bottom falling out of their super schemes. The junior inspector
who approached this particular driver in regard to the package told
him "we want to get rid of you older blokes, because we can't
brainwash you like the younger blokes." These redundancies are
certain to worsen the train driver staff shortage. However, the bosses
seem keen to squander more of the SRA budget and pay out more
overtime to keep the trains running.

Retief

Why you should reject SRA EBA 2002
It's that old "carrot dangling" time again. CityRail and the Labor
Unions are offering us a pay rise of 4% backdated to 1st April 2002
and a further 4% on 1st March 2003. Most of us agree that any offer
of a rise in pay is welcome, however people should look closely at the
fine print contained in EBA 2002. As always there has been
complicity of agreement between the public transport unions, the
Labor Council and SRA management before full consultation with
the workers has been affected. The consultative committees have
agreed on an implementation process already such is the state of the
democratic process in the Labor dominated unions today. For
example, the clause about "on-time" running has been included
again. Why the unions allow this clause to be included is beyond
me? It is beyond the scope of employee's responsibility at the shop
floor to ensure "on-time running." Issues such as maintenance of
rolling stock, purchasing, equipment condition, and track upgrading
are clearly within the realms of management and government
responsibility. We have little control of decisions effecting timetable
reliability and therefore should not be held accountable. The same
could be said of the signage, ticketing and accessibility components
of the agreement. There is acknowledgement of the hardships
workers face as a result of the introduction of "Smart Card" ticketing
including the expected changed roles of sales persons. There will be
a review of the expected effects of this change. One thing we
shouldn't agree on is the clause about no extra remuneration for the
trialing of new technology. As anyone knows, who has been placed
in the position of trialing during the introduction of new technology,
this usually is the most stressful time on the job. Another problem
with the introduction of new technology is the complete lack of
effective training and the lack of consultation with the end users.
There should be recognition of the difficulties and stress involved
with the introduction of new technology and there should be
commensurate remuneration. Of most concern is the issue of
performance monitoring. From overseas experience the outcome of
performance monitoring is a general speedup of work tasks in the
workplace squeezing the last drop of productivity from the orange.
The most abhorrent aspect is that it does not take into account the
age, infirmity, disabilities, experience and ability of the employees
involved. Workers who fall behind faster or better workers will be
counseled or pressured in one way or another to improve their
performance. They ultimately will have less control over the way that
they work. This is also linked to pay scales. It is theoretically possible
to have workers at the same grade at the same location on differing
rates of pay. Exactly how this will be applied is not spelt out in the
draft document. The EBA also more deeply involves the unions in
management decision-making. A consultative committee is to be set
up with union and management representatives "to suggest or
respond to proposals for policy formulation and implementation."
While this may at first glance be a positive initiative there is reason to
be very suspicious of the motives. If there were democratic structures
in place at the grassroots level and a free flow of information from
bottom to top and vice versa it would pose less of a problem. Many of
the union delegates are handsomely paid out of the SRA payroll,
limiting their ability to negotiate on behalf of their workplace
colleagues. This arrangement where unions are performing
cooperative decision making functions beside management further
compromises the role of unions as upholders of the rights of workers.
This is partly an ALP power play and a direct management role for
the unions. Workers at the shop floor level will be the losers out of
these consultative ventures as the unions will be committed to
certain outcomes no matter what rank and filer's feel or say about
them. There will be little or no room for dissent. There is already
harassment of employees who have genuine illness or injury. Under
the present policy counseling takes place if there are 3 lots of
absences within the year even if the total number of days does not
exceed 3. It is very difficult to claim the award entitlement of 15 days
(cumulative) per year. The fact that management want to tighten
down further on absenteeism will cause further hardship to all
employees who are genuinely in need of sick leave. What has to be
remembered is that as shift workers many employees are doing
excessive overtime that is far and above the Australian average. They
are working much longer than the statutory requirement, yet are
counseled for taking time off. The unions would have been better
served by seeking to restrict the total number of working hours. As
things stand it is perfectly understandable why people are taking
unplanned absences. Even if employees have worked their 48hrs for
the week, days off will be counted as unplanned absences. This is
clearly ridiculous. Despite this absurdity this agreement goes on to
lift the overtime limit for certain salary grades and continues the
process of not letting employees accumulate Public Holidays beyond
8 days per year and also allows cashing out Long Service Leave
under the financial hardship provision. We seem to be moving in the
opposite direction to the motives expressed by the ACTU when they
sought to give workers more leisure time and time with their families
through legislative measures in the recent Industrial Commission
ruling. Even so that decision (that workers have the right to say no to
overtime) fell far short of what should have been a more progressive
move towards limiting hours of overtime and creating more leisure
and family time. Much of what is stated in the proposed agreement
does not spell out in plain language either the clear intention of
certain clauses or the meaning contained therein. Obfuscation and
uncertain clarity is the hallmark of all industrial agreements these
days. It serves the purpose of blurring the lines between human
resource concepts and what needs to be understood by workers at the
shop floor level. The Public Transport unions have never historically
nor satisfactorily brought enlightenment to their members by
explaining in plain language just what the jargon and concepts in
agreements means. That in my opinion is a very great failing of the
unions. Consultation is usually in these processes a one-way street
were workers are treated like malleable automatons that don't need
to know the fine detail. What, for example, does the agreement mean
when they talk about Consolidation of Conditions of Employment? Is
this the same as Award Simplification, or more precisely Award
Stripping? The details in the document do not spell out what they
have in store for the awards or the workers bound to them. We have
reason to be very suspicious of such clauses as the definitions are too
broad to gain an insight into their motives or plans. "Standardisation
of Shift and Related Entitlements" roughly falls into the same
category. These clauses and issues need much more elaboration and
debate. Unless these clauses are spelt out in detail in the agreement
and don't take some union delegates word or promise about it then
they should be rejected totally. Just look at the mess we were all in
after the last Work and Job Redesign Agreement which stated that
we would be paid for "all time worked". The skewing of the meaning
of this clause about the method of payment in this case led to many
employees being totally out of pocket due to new interpretations,
(which we are willing to contest) leading to an alleged overpayment
that was expected to be paid back in full to the SRA. There is no
mention in this agreement as to the exact method of calculation of
the 4% payment. Theoretically we could all end up in the same boat
again. We need to make sure that this is spelt out without ambiguity
in this agreement. The agreement also gives the green light to
outsourcing after consultation with the "relevant union". The reasons
given as conditions for outsourcing are very broad and will no way
impede the SRA's right to privatise and outsource were they see fit.
The Merit Selection process has been a failure right from its
inception. The sheer cronyism and farcical unfairness of the
promotions process is something which is common knowledge talk
at the shop floor level. Often the successful applicant for promotion
is known before the promotion has been advertised and is based on
personal relationship more than anything else. The concept of `merit'
rarely enters the equation. There is nostalgia for the days when
promotions were based on "seniority" where a measure of experience
counted for something and it was much harder to be unfair. The
proposed Informal Appeals Process is management and union's way
of dealing with the growing dissatisfaction over the procedural
unfairness of Merit Selection and all the appeals that it has thrown
up. Removing the automatic right to appeal directly to the Transport
Appeals Board by putting bureaucratic impediments in the way is no
solution. A much fairer and equitable process would be a return to
the seniority system that guarantees that the person is experienced
and capable of performing the task because they would have acted in
that position many times before. Under the present process the
person with the biggest resume` wins the promotion even if they do
not understand the content contained within it. Finally, the Dispute
Settlement Procedure has always been a bugbear to me. It's
overriding purpose is to contain dissent and keep power with the
ALP controlled hierarchy. It removes the spontaneity of workplace
industrial action and limits the power of workers to take action on
their own behalf. It is an impediment to workplace democracy, as the
Labor Council (the Labor Party) becomes the final arbiter of any
workplace dispute. Experience has shown that outcomes for workers
under this regime have been less than spectacular because of the
concessions the DSP gives to management, the government and
agents of the government. The agreement in general is a rehash of
what has already been put partially into practice, it merely puts many
of the SRA policy initiatives within a legislative framework. Much of
the content of the agreement has been poorly thought through and
contains many unconvincing policy statements with which I
disagree. The 4% p.a. increase doesn't put much of a bulge in my
back pocket as inflation is already running at 6% and we are all aware
of the cost of balancing the home budget as prices for everything we
pay for is on the up and up. Rejecting the EBA would enhance our
prospect of gaining even more monetarily. Also we should assert our
power at the shop floor levels by rejecting this EBA until we have
written guarantees about many of the clauses contained within it that
remain unclear and could be deleterious to the working conditions
we deserve and expect.

RANK & FILE BUSIES' & RAIL WORKERS' GROUP
In the end, if we want better options, we need to come together as
rank-file bus drivers and rail workers to win it ourselves. Sparks
supports a rank-and-file bus drivers' and railway workers' group, who
meet up to talk over the issues and ways forward. Come on board for
wages justice, chasing out the fat cats, the fight against privatisation
and democratic unionism - ever bit helps. Get in touch today ring
0409-566-341. Also, if you would like to help circulate information or
copies of Sparks, please contact us.

SPARKS PO Box 92 Broadway 2007 NSW

Working Lives: A History of the Australian Railways Union (NSW
Branch), by Mark Hearn
Working Lives is the official history of the Australian Railways
Union, NSW Branch (the ARU). The NSW Branch of the ARU was
the largest union in the railways in NSW. It was formed in the 1920s,
and covered most waged workers in the railways in NSW, including
the train guards, stations assistants, cleaners, and thousands of
building and maintenance workers. The ARU was also the largest of
the unions which amalgamated in the early 90s to form the RTBU.
The Forgotten History of Railway Workers and their Union One of
the best things about Working Lives is that it keeps alive the stories
of the long and bitter struggles by railway workers to defend their
jobs and their dignity, and to improve their conditions. The most
extraordinary example of this hidden history is the story of the
General Strike by NSW workers in 1917. After more that 80 days this
General Strike - which involved not just the railways, but the
wharfies, the seamen, the miners and many others was broken by
the government using the police and scabs. Did you even know about
this strike? And did you know that it was led by railway workers? I
didn't. Working Lives also tells the stories of growing confidence
amongst railway workers in the late 1960s, 70s and early 80s, as they
renewed the battle for better wages, conditions and some control
over their work. One often hears that pay and conditions in the 70s
were quite good, but in fact this was not true for all workers. The
wages of per-way workers, who repaired the train tracks, were below
the poverty line. When they went on strike for over a week, they were
demanding a pay rise which would raise their wages up to the
poverty line! To the author's credit, he details how many of the most
important actions by workers were ones where they had to defy the
union officials. When the per-way workers went on strike, they did
so despite the instructions of union officials who told them to not
disrupt services. Similarly, there are many examples throughout the
70s and 80s where union officials tried to push the dispute into the
arbitration commission, or to hold just one 24 hour strike. These
actions were often meaningless because they did not hurt SRA
bosses. When the workers were organised on the job, and when they
were angry and serious about defending their conditions, they would
argue against union officials in mass meetings, and vote to take
serious actions, such as week-long strikes or rolling stoppages. The
stories of rolling stoppages are the most interesting. These were
initially used by signalmen, but then later by guards and drivers, to
disrupt services over a long period of time, without costing workers a
lot in lost wages. Some rolling stoppages worked by each shift
coming-on half an hour late. This would stop all trains for half an
hour three times a day, throwing the timetable into chaos. Another
tactic was for all the workers at one particular place to strike for one
day, and then workers at another place to strike the next day, and so
on. These kinds of actions put huge pressure on management,
making it very difficult for them to manage timetables, and making
them look totally out of control, but they cost workers relatively little
money. These actions were also effective because management
found it difficult to organise scabs because they couldn't really bring
in scabs for 30 minutes, and they would not know which lines were
going to be on strike till they happened. The following quote from
Working Lives shows how effective rolling stoppages were: "In two
waves of selective stoppages, the guards dramatically extended the
potential for chaos that the signalmen's' rolling strike of 1971 had
first revealed. Reg Smith [a member of the left-wing opposition and a
rank-and-file worker] played a key role in the strikes. 'The State
Secretary of the day, Jack Maddox, wanted us to call it off and just
have a bang, [one] good strike and that's it. But we found that the
rolling strikes were very, very effective and we won every one of our
claims through them.' Depot by depot, guards refused to commence
duties. Hence, on 4 March 1974, the stoppages began when 212
guards at Central Station declined to start work. Guards at Hornsby
and North Sydney followed suit 24-hours later, whilst the guards at
Central returned to work. "Within two days the stoppages spread
outside Sydney to Newcastle, and it became impossible for the PTC
to accurately predict services, so the Commission attempted to
anticipate the stoppages and make alternative arrangements, as Reg
Smith observes. 'On the day we were to start the rolling stoppages we
knew the [PTC] had the special rosters ready to go, but we change
the depots and didn't tell them and nor did we tell our State
executive. And this threw all their best plans to the winds, and they
could do nothing.' " Workers' Education and Socialism In the 1920s
and 30s, after the horrific experience of World War I and later the
Great Depression, workers in the ARU and the ARU Executive took
their own independent education and also the struggle for a better
world much more seriously. In the 1930s they formed an
'Educational and Organising Committee', which organised a range of
social events, such as football and cricket teams, a band, drama
groups, as well as a library and lunch time and evening classes on
economics and international affairs. The union took these broader
political activities seriously. As Hearn (the author) describes: "The E
& O Committee's main function was to encourage members to
understand their position in society as active unionists, 'as a prelude
to taking control of the social and economic machinery and operating
it in the interests of the workers.' 'Taking control of the social and
economic machinery and operating it in the interests of the workers'
meant exactly what it sounds like - some form of socialism. Their
seemed to be different visions of socialism amongst the workers and
officials. Some were members of the Communist Party, with more
authoritarian notions of socialism, but many were just independent
left-wing workers who wanted to build a better society, without
poverty, and without bosses. To get there they knew that they needed
to take their own education seriously, and they did. Left-wing
Oppositions to the Leadership of the ARU To the author's credit, he
has a long section on the campaign by various left-wing members to
try to win control of the ARU (NSW Branch) from the late 60s till the
early 80s. These militant workers were serious about trying to build a
union that would go on the offensive - taking industrial action and
fighting harder to win victories for workers. They used many
different strategies, including running for lower level positions as
local delegates and on the union executive. In these forums the
militants were able to influence union policy, helping to change it,
and also demonstrating what sort of policy was possible if the union
had a more militant leadership. They also would organise actions by
their department or industry, despite the opposition of the state union
officials. For example, the militants in the signalman's section
helped to organise a set of rolling stoppages against the decision by
the Industrial Relations Commission to grant a lousy pay rise.
Through helping to organise actions like these, the militants built-up
members confidence in their own ability to take direct action, and
built-up member's faith in the militants, as serious workers who
might one day replace the existing union leadership. One thing that
struck me about the left-wing opposition inside the ARU is how well
organised they were and how long term they thought. They had
networks of active militants who would often meet to talk about what
they were doing and plan their activities. These networks included
left members of the Labor Party, members of the Communist Party,
and large numbers of independent left-wing workers. They planned
election challenges a couple of years in advance, organising finances
and candidates. Several militants would take four weeks leave in the
lead up to the elections, travelling across the state visiting the
hundreds of workplaces, talking to workers about their plans for the
union. These militants were also good delegates and activists in their
own departments, keeping members informed, organising regular
site meetings, and leading strikes and rolling stoppages when they
occurred.

Problems with this book
This history does have a few limitations. First, it was written in 1989,
which means that it's not up to date. Also, because its an official
history, not all of it should be believed - after all the union officials
were signing the author's pay checks. This shouldn't, however, put
people off reading it. It is worth reading just for the insights into the
workings of the union, into the lives of railway workers, and into the
many battles and struggles on the railways over the last hundred
years. I purchased my copy of Working Lives from (Bob) Gould's
Bookshop - at the North end of King St, Newtown. You should be
able to pick up a copy of it here for about $10 to $15. Alternatively
you could contact Sparks - we've bought five copies of it, and are
happy to lend or sell them to interested rail or bus workers. Give us a
call on the mobile and we'll organise something.

by Nick H

BEWARE OF OWNERS & OPERATORS RIPPING DRIVERS
OFF!
Sparks: What's been happening in the taxi industry lately?
Sydney Cabbie: A few weeks ago, on Monday, July 22nd, taxi meter
rates in Sydney were adjusted upwards by 4.6%, as stipulated by the
DoT (Department of Transport). Pay-ins were to remain the same,
despite the increase in meter rate, until the Industrial Commission
hears the submissions of the TIA (Taxi Industry Association, the
owners' organisation) and the TWU (Transport Workers Union, the
drivers' organisation), later in the year. It's been the case however,
that some drivers and operators have illegally bumped up their
pay-ins. The maximum permissible pay-ins that owners and
operators are legally allowed to charge regardless of whether they pay
holiday pay and other entitlements to drivers or not, were determined
in the Industrial Commission in December last year, and are as
follows:


All day shifts - $114.00
Monday nights - $123.70
Tuesday nights - $125.85
Wednesday nights - $135.70
Thursday nights - $153.10
Friday nights - $173.65
Saturday nights - $173.65
Sunday nights - $134.60

Any owner/operator who charges a driver more than the above
amounts is breaking the law. Even the taxi bosses' own
organisations, the TIA and the Taxi Council, will tell you this if you
call them. Their phone number is 9332 1266. If you go to their office
at 152 Riley Street, East Sydney, you can obtain, for the sum of
$1.50, a copy of the Contract Determination 1984, which spells out
the law as regards dealings between drivers and their bosses; it
includes the above list of maximum pay-ins, and other useful info
such as how to calculate holiday pay entitlements, etc, etc. Every
driver should have a copy. The TWU, the drivers' union will back up
any driver who is a TWU member who is being charged too much by
his or her boss, or whose boss is in breach of some other aspect of
the Contract. The TWU's Phone Number is 9912 0700. The bloke to
speak to is Raj Chaudhry. Drivers are not obliged to comply with
their bosses' demands if the bosses are breaking the law. When
dealing with the boss, however, drivers should proceed with care,
bosses don't like drivers who know their rights, they regard them as
"trouble makers" and may well look for ways to get rid of them, by,
for example, assigning them shit cars all the time, or no car at all.
Unfortunately, standing up for your legal rights may not be enough
to protect you from the bosses' desire to get rid of you, or to make life
hell for you. The empowerment derived from union membership is a
big plus and should be considered by all drivers.

BROOKVALE DEPOT NEWS, OPINION & OTHER SIDE OF
THE STORY!
Sparks It has been several months now since the STA moved the
customers out into the cold at east esplanade, to a cold and wet bus
stop without a shelter. Has this now been fixed after all these
months?
Amigo No, it has not. Believe it or not, customers and elderly are still
suffering. It was reported that the Minister is considering it. Fancy
that! A Minister has to decide about a Bus Shelter! Australians are
obviously suffering from too much red tape......too many people in
pretend jobs! The Management ought to get honest and issue
themselves with a big misconduct notice! It seems that mis-conduct
notices and rule books have been designed and reserved only for Bus
Drivers! How dishonest can one get?
Sparks We heard that you are being harassed about your entitlements
e.g. genuine sickies covered by certificates etc, what's that all about?
Amigo Well, Managers for just a few dollars more in their salary
(they don't even get profit sharing) have been obviously instructed by
the controlling fat cats to discourage Drivers from claiming their
entitlements when they are off sick. Recently I was off sick with a
medically certified groin injury and the Manager/s called me in and
wanted to discuss my groin etc. I was worried for a minute that the
Manager was going to ask to examine me there! The manager tried
to encourage/scare me into coming in to work even when I am ill
(soldier on I think was the term used), but I know if I did I would be
costing everybody a whole lot more than just a few days off in sick
pay e.g. what if I had a crash? Who would get hurt and who would
pay for the huge damages etc. Some managers think that Driving is a
pretend job where you can just come in even if you are not feeling
100%. Maybe in the office you can come in have a cap of coffee and
get away with working a little whilst you are a bit sick, but as a Driver
responsible for passengers & others safety, I will never risk it! It's my
license and my responsibility, not the Managers. Some Managers for
just a few dollars more seem to want to achieve big for the fat cats by
pressuring Drivers to come into work sick.
Sparks Obviously it's a con and very unrealistic of the STA to expect
Drivers not to go sick after working so many 12 day straights without
a break, plus also loosing some of their public hols when they are
forced to work etc. and which are no longer added on to their annual
holidays. Sparks - Tell us about the Long Service Leave allocation
and rorts?
Amigo Well, long service procedures seem to operate under cloak
and dagger conditions of secrecy e.g. no one really knows the rules,
the rules are not published, e.g. does it go on seniority, are there the
same number of allocations per period? Is it first to apply first to get
those allocations? Etc. I've been on the job for 15 years and the
Employers has not yet advised me of the rules! What does that tell
you? Is it honest? I am just finding out information in drips and draps
from people around the depot e.g. lately I have been advised rightly
or wrongly that long service leave reduces your annual holidays
because you don't work the full 12 months to accrue 25 days of
holiday. Further I have been advised that any public holidays which
fall during your long service leave are forfeited. Under the
circumstances it's hard to know what is the truth or if the regulations
are just been twisted to suit managerial whim. I am going to speak to
a solicitor who knows about public service rules to find out what
exactly are my entitlements and the law.
Sparks But surely the Union should do that for you.
Amigo You must be joking, I was in the Union for many years and
found them to be leaning always on the STA's side. Over the years
the following are just some of the things which were given away for
appx 3% pay cuts: Roster Con In Mr. Greiner's time we were on a
seven day roster i.e. Sunday was part of our five days and we had 2
days off which we could get a doc or just spend with our families.
This means we could work 4 days say at $100 per day and a Sunday
for $200 making a total of $600p.w. Then came the big con. They
agreed to change the rosters so as to take Sunday out of the roster
and replace it with a normal day, so now we have to work 5 days at
$100 (using round figures) is $500 or $550 if a Saturday is included
before you can qualify to do a voluntary Sunday. So if you don't want
to work the Sunday overtime your salary actually went down! This is
how Drivers got locked into so much overtime. So by changing the
rosters the STA foxily and cunningly attacked the average hourly
rate.....they were able to reduce the average hourly rate and keep the
difference for the fat cats! Loss of Holidays The STA Union agreed
that when Bus Drivers were compelled to work on public holidays,
they are to be paid time and a half for the day worked plus one days
pay e.g. public holidays paid at two and a half normal rate. Previously
we had a much better deal e.g. when we worked on public holidays
we got paid time and a half, plus had a paid days added to our
holidays. So if we worked say on 5 public holidays (which can often
happen as it's not voluntary) our rest periods were protected by
giving us an additional 5 days on to our annual leave e.g. we would
get not 5 weeks but 6 weeks. The fat cats did not like this because
this cost them a day's holiday pay, plus a public holiday worked at
time and a half, plus they had to pay for a DOC to cover the guy on
holiday! So by just paying us two and a half for public holidays
worked means they save a DOC but we end up with less holidays
than some non-shift workers because if we get 5 weeks and a
non-shift worker gets 4 weeks plus about 9 public hols per year, who
then gets more holidays the shift worker or the office worker? And
who pockets the money from the saved DOC? Loss of Staff Buses
Before we had staff buses to take the last bus Drivers home or to
their nearest connection point late at night. This was discontinued.
Bus Drivers now have to make their own way home at night! No cab
dockets no assistance, no nothing! Again the fat cats pocket the
savings! Attack on Long Service Leave A condition of STA hire now
is you start as part time. You may be part time for about a
year......this year does not count towards long service. In effect they
are attacking long service leave. Instead of paying long service leave
after 10 years they are in effect paying only after 11 years. The fat
cats pocket the difference. Reduction of shift lengths from higher
penalty rosters e.g. by shifting hours to part timers, or others rosters
which pay less penalties for the same work For example the penalties
on broken shifts are higher than the PM shifts. By shifting more
hours on to the Pm's or Am's or to the part timers the fat cats are
making big money! ROSTER MANIPULATION MEANS BIG
SAVINGS FOR THE FAT CATS! Privatization Giveaway After
many years of saying they were against privatisation, the STA Union
agreed to a privatisation deal in the latest EBA which has no
compensation in it for Drivers whatsoever! All Drivers get is their
sickies and long service leave, which was always theirs anyway!
Many other giveaways Too many to include in this issue.....more
exposures to be made in future issues!
Sparks This would explain where all the money is found to pay some
fat cat executives 22% (appx) pay rises when Drivers get pay cuts of
about 3% and this kind of inequity is tolerated by inaction by Union
Officials! Sparks What's happening with OH& Safety?
Amigo I' am not impressed with the quality that comes out of the
OH & S Committee. To me it's obvious the committee is dominated
and controlled by Management! As evidence of this I can quote my
experience in dealings with them e.g. many months ago I wrote
about the following issues:

* Too many reflections in wind screen at night Some one painted
everything in the bus yellow and this fills the windscreen at night
with reflections......so many reflections one can hardly separate
reflections from reality.
* Defective Seats Brand New seats virtually, have head supports
which although designed to be adjustable to Drivers height are in fact
fixed low down so as no to be adjustable. This means for tall people
that the head rest is sticking in their shoulder blades!
* Bad Air Someone has installed about 7 air conditioning holes
pointing directly at Drivers face and ear. Air conditioning has been
fixed so that it cannot be controlled by Driver. The air con bellows
out, turbo style, lots of hot or cold air into Drivers ears in the summer
giving ear ache in winter the hot air con air makes Drivers sleepy!
Also at the outset causes windscreen to fog up in certain humid
conditions!
* Delayed Alarms Many buses have useless delayed alarms which
means that you can forget to put the hand brake on, turn the engine
off and walk out before the alarm even comes on!

THE ABOVE AND MORE HAVE BEEN BROUGHT TO THEIR
ATTENTION BUT NO REPLY HAS BEEN GIVEN NOR IS
THERE ANY INDICATION THAT THESE IMPORTANT
MATTERS WILL BE FIXED!
Sparks We also heard that neither STA security nor the Police are
responding to Emergencies when objects are thrown at Buses. We
heard of a case where a bus was attacked from outside with
somekind of heavy missile, the Driver reported this to Radio, but
nothing was done and when the bus did the return journey the
attackers were still there and attacked the bus again! Is this true?
Amigo Yes, this is true I was the Driver of that Bus. It became
impossible to Drive. I was shocked nearly lost control and nearly
crashed the bus. I was spooked, traumatized and shaken. Had to take
the bus straight back to shed and sign off sick. I have information
that on that Friday night alone there were 12 separate incidents of
buses been attacked with missiles and it's plainly obvious to me that
these are not being investigated. The STA for obvious reasons keeps
quite about these issues, nor does it publish statistics. I'll bet that
hardly ever is anybody caught throwing things at buses.....That's
because there is no real programme in place to deter people from
doing this kind of thing. It's mostly the same people doing it.......and
they know no one will catch them and they hung around in well
known spots e.g. park/bush areas and throw objects at Drivers and
passengers! They even have enough confidence to hung around until
the bus comes back on it's return trip to attack it again. The Police
are not there, State Transit Security is not there...so why should they
worry?
Sparks But at the back of the Journal you have an incident report
form. When you fill it in and it's faxed etc surely you get some kind
of feedback?
Amigo No. hardly ever get any feedback or acknowledgment. It
would seem that most of these crimes are just swept under the
carpet. THE OPERATOR SAYS SOMETHING LIKE THIS
'Drivers be advised in the Mona Vale Area there are rock throwers'
and leaves it at that! He should be saying 'Drivers in the Mona Vale
area we have rock/bottle throwers. We have immediately informed
the Police who have checked the area and confirm that it's now safe
to continue through that area'. Again the STA Union and
Management, just to be honest I think, should write themselves out
a BIG mis-conduct notice for obvious neglect of duty!
Sparks We can only conclude from the above that the STA Union is
not doing their job to justify the fees they charge Members. Also, it
appears that Members themselves are too easy/tolerant by just
paying the fees and underselling themselves by not demanding their
rights!








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