Bus passengers stranded Tuesday as strike action set to go ahead

Ballarat commuters face a day without public transport as first bus strike in 20 years set to go ahead on Tuesday.
Ballarat commuters face a day without public transport as first bus strike in 20 years set to go ahead on Tuesday.

THE elderly and school children on holidays are set to be the most affected as Ballarat bus drivers join in a mass strike today as demands for a better pay deal stall.

Barring an 11th hour change of heart, more than 600 drivers were expected to walk off the job after the last service on Monday night and not get behind the wheel again until the first scheduled service on Wednesday.

The workers, employed by CDC which has a government contract to operate the bus services in Ballarat as well as Melbourne and Geelong want a four per cent wage rise and one per cent superannunation increase.

Transport Workers Union national vice-president John Berger said workers have rejected an offered 2.5 per cent pay increase during discussions over the new enterprise bargaining agreement.

After a two-hour meeting on Monday, Mr Berger said negotiations had reached "an impasse" and he hoped a "suitable offer" would prevent the need for the strike.

"We have not taken strike action in the bus industry for 20 years," he said.

CDC Victoria chief executive Nicholas Yap said he respected drivers' rights to take lawful industrial action but was disappointed in the disruptions.

"Our drivers do a very important job and we feel this wage offer demonstrates our support for them," he said of the increase rejected by drivers.

Public Transport Victoria chief executive Jeroen Weimar called on the union and CDC to quickly come to an agreement.

PTV confirmed that no other bus companies had been called upon to fill in the routes, while Ballarat Taxi’s were unable to confirm whether more cars would be operating on the day.

“It's disappointing that this action will be going ahead as it will cause real inconvenience to many of our bus passengers,”  Mr Weimar said. "We ask passengers to consider deferring their travel if possible, or look for alternative arrangements." 

There will be no changes or planned disruptions to V/Line services.