NSW commuters have been told to plan their journeys ahead this week, with industrial action impacting services on buses and trains.
The strikes begin on Monday with inner west Sydney bus drivers off the job as part of an ongoing dispute over pay equality.
On Tuesday bus drivers in the south west of Sydney will go on strike too, before the two groups combine to go on strike for two hours during the Friday afternoon peak.
Also on Tuesday, Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members won’t be driving foreign-made trains – which run three-quarters of the services on the network.
It’s the latest in a series of industrial actions taken by train drivers in recent months.
The RTBU has been negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement for months, after the old one expired in May.
The union’s NSW secretary Alex Claassens says negotiations have stalled and the drivers have been forced to go on strike again because their employers are “refusing to budge on issues that are hugely significant to both workers and commuters” such as safety and hygiene.
“We don’t like it, but we don’t have any other options at this stage,” Mr Claassens says.
“The good news is that the NSW government can put a halt to this by simply delivering on some basic requests.”
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland says the strikes are disappointing because there have been “more than 40 meetings” between Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and the union.
Mr Claassens says the union has “only just been able to get the bosses to even sit at the table”.
The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene standards while not relying on contractors to provide it.
“We have spoken about a 2.5 per cent per annum pay increase, inclusive of superannuation, and it is incredibly disappointing unions are pushing ahead with more disruptions,” Mr Longland says.
The union is “acutely aware” of the impact that drivers refusing to drive foreign-built trains will have on commuters but the problem is the proportion of transport assets those trains make up, Mr Claassens said.
“That’s important given all the issues we’re seeing with overseas-built transport assets at the moment.”
All 12 of the foreign-built, seven-year-old trams for the inner west line of the Sydney light rail have been removed from service to fix extensive cracking, but bus services to replace them won’t be impacted by Monday’s strike.
Train drivers are concerned about new foreign-made trains from Korea that are yet to go into service, and say the replacement of guards on the train platform with CCTV monitored by the driver poses safety risks to workers and commuters.
Transport for NSW says Tuesday’s strikes mean services will run to a reduced frequency on most lines, make additional station stops and take longer to reach their destination, and advised commuters to plan ahead.