NSW teachers, bus and train drivers are on strike looking to end long-running negotiations with the state government and its various agencies over pay, conditions and privatisation.
Public school teachers and principals are off the job on Tuesday, accusing the government of failing to address unsustainable workloads, uncompetitive salaries and staff shortages.
“The NSW government is concerned about children missing out for one day, but we are concerned about children missing out every day because there simply aren’t enough teachers,” NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said on Monday.
Teachers‘ workloads were “unmanageable” and a wage cap meant their salaries didn’t “reflect the skills or responsibilities they have”.
They want a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to “begin to reverse the decline in teachers‘ wages compared to other professions”.
Mr Gavrielatos said the government was also lacking a coherent strategy to fill 3000 vacant positions and recruit 11,000 teachers the state would need in the next decade.
Transport strikes began on Monday, with bus drivers in the inner west going on strike and their unions calling on the state government to demand its contractor Transit Systems negotiate over a two-tier wage system that has some workers earning less than others for doing the same job.
That industrial action continues on Tuesday with drivers from Sydney’s southwest going on strike, before drivers from both regions stop work for two hours during the Friday afternoon peak.
Bus commuters looking for alternative transport will be short of options, with train drivers refusing to operate foreign-made trains that run about three quarters of the services.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has been negotiating a new enterprise bargaining agreement after the old one expired in May.
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said Tuesday’s strikes were disappointing after more than 40 meetings between Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and the union, however the union says leaders they want to negotiate with have only just started coming to 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.
Mr Longland said employees had been offered a 2.5 per cent pay increase, inclusive of superannuation.
Transport for NSW said Tuesday’s strikes meant services would run to a reduced frequency on most lines, make additional station stops and take longer to reach their destination.
While bus drivers were on strike Monday, Transport for NSW announced the coincidental conclusion of “a three-year trial exploring the future of transport”.
An autonomous, driverless bus operating in Coffs Harbour has provided “invaluable data and customer feedback which will help us drive the next stage in automated transport”, Transport for NSW customer strategy and technology acting deputy secretary Lewis Clark says.