Ferry workers strike in Brisbane
Ferry workers are on strike in Brisbane.
They are protesting the actions of private company Transdev who are so far refusing to offer a decent wage rise and secure jobs in enterprise negotiations.
MUA secretary Bob Carnegie told the hundreds of people gathered at the picket line on December 6 that "this is a wonderful thing".
"It is wonderful that ferry workers are standing up to a large transnational company that has been treating them like crap for a number of years."
Transdev has a record of offering pay rises on paper but then reneging on them in practice. For example, one year workers won a travel allowance for those who were rostered on at 6:30am or earlier. The company then started rostering people to start at 6:31am.
Currently a ferry (which could be carrying 200 passengers) is required to have a crew if three. In exceptional circumstances, the ferry can be crewed by two people in which case, the two crew members are each paid an allowance equal to half the pay of the third crew member. This is to cover the extra responsibility they face in such situations.
In current negotiations, the company is refusing to guarantee that staffing levels will remain at three crew per ferry and also wants to remove the allowance for when a ferry is crewed by two people.
This is not only an attack on workers' jobs but would have massive safety implications if two-person crews were standardised.
Queensland Council of Unions general secretary Ros McLennan told the crowd that the is issue is simply about "decent pay for secure work with timetables for safety".
She pointed out that Transdev pays less than 3 per cent tax. One sign carried at the rally said that "We pay more tax than Transdev".
One speaker also pointed out that Brisbane bus drivers are the highest paid bus drivers in South East Queensland while Brisbane ferry workers are the lowest paid in Australia. The difference he said is that bus drivers are employed directly by the Brisbane City Council while the ferry service is contracted out to a private company.
[More photos on the Green Left facebook page.]