A TWU-BUS member recently wrote to the TWU-BUS section with a query about the benefits of TWU membership. The member received the following reply – written by Senior Bus Organiser Mike McNess – highlighting a few obvious and hidden ways a TWU membership works for members each and every day.
Thank you for your email. I am the Senior Bus Official at the TWU and more than happy to provide a response to your queries.
The TWU is heavily involved in many issues at all levels with all bus operators, including CDC. However, rosters are managed by Depot Roster Committees, which are elected by depot drivers and the employer. You specifically mentioned the management of overtime. The TWU has ensured that the current EBA contains specific consultation clauses detailing how rosters are to be discussed, negotiated and agreed. This process works well in most cases but the TWU often needs to step in if the process is not followed. Rosters containing excessive hours should be reported to the relevant Roster Rep. The TWU does not endorse any roster – good or bad.
Most operators have now taken the view to reduce long shifts for fatigue reasons. However, while this is an important health and safety issue, TWU members also want their earnings retained and have requested that reduction in hours be disputed at Fair Work Australia.
Interestingly, the view on rosters varies from driver to driver and from depot to depot. Many drivers are very protective of their long shifts and value the income, whilst others prefer consecutive days off or a lifestyle roster. The nature of the Victorian Bus Industry is that there is a good hourly rate and plenty of overtime available whether rostered or not. As a result many of our members are attracted to the Industry.
2) Why should I continue to be a TWU member?
This is a great question and more important now than ever before.
Anything you receive from your employer has been the result of a Union campaign. Overtime, penalty rates, paid sick leave, long service leave, annual leave, parental leave and bereavement leave, the 8-hour day, meal breaks, superannuation (the TWU was the Union that started Super), wage increases, workers compensation, paid public holidays, workplace health and safety standards, collective bargaining, a strong Victorian Bus Industry Agreement, paid redundancies, allowances, Service grants and a minimum wage.
None of these life-changing initiatives were given to you by employers –they were all won by Union members and Unions standing strong over many years.
The Australian Industry Group, a peak employer Union, has argued for the past 20 years for 0% increase to the minimum wage. But Unions have nonetheless successfully lobbied for minimum wage increases for each and every one of those years. I am sure you know that you are paid – thanks to your EBA – more than $7 per hour above the Award rate. Union members and the Union got you that.
As a result of this higher rate, members receive their annual Union fees back about every 10 days.
It is important to note that your TWU fees are tax deductible and one of the lowest in the country. TWU membership is one of the best financial investments around for any Australian worker.
Victorian Bus Drivers operate under a TWU Industry Agreement and are the highest paid bus drivers in Australia. Only Victorian bus drivers receive a Service Grant. So these are all very good reasons to be in the Union.
3) Why should I stay in the Union?
Simple. If there were no Union members, there would be no Unions, and the employers win. The Victorian Bus Industry EBAs are coming up for renegotiation in March 2018. CDC have already indicated that they will be looking to reduce conditions, like Service Grants, and introduce others, such as split shifts. Split shifts may look good to someone who lives across the road from the depot, but not for many others.
As I am sure you have heard, Fair Work Australia is phasing out weekend penalty rates for shift workers and retail, hospitality and any other worker who is rostered across the weekend. Such as bus drivers.
4) Who are standing in their way?
Penalty rates are on the way out and only strong union members and strong Unions, with strong EBAs, will keep them. Again, no Union members = no Unions = the employers win.
The TWU conducts quarterly Delegates meetings with all bus operators, including CDC. There are regular BBQs at the depots. Noticeboards are updated and TWU Bus Organisers are in the depots regularly. You would also receive our newsletter. All sorts of information is available to our members about what the Union and its members do.
I am sure you have heard about our ongoing bus driver safety campaign. CDC have been heavily involved with us. So have your Delegates. As a result, security screens have become compulsory, voice-over technology is removing the obligation on the driver to ask passengers to ‘touch on’, mobile-eye is being introduced to assist drivers and more Authorised Officers are being employed to enforce fare evasion (although they are not often seen).
Safety/security for our members is very important and I could provide pages of information about the protests, discussions with employers and meetings with the State Government that have delivered the biggest ever shake-up in the Victorian Bus Industry.
I hope the above information has satisfactorily answered your questions. Your TWU Delegate Steve Gado, Local TWU-Bus Organiser Imran Malik and I are available to meet with you at the depot or the TWU office. If you have any further queries please contact myself via email or mobile (0402039192) or the TWU office on 1300727614 at any point. The TWU also offers a 24-hour emergency paging service if required.
Keep an eye out for BBQ notices on the board and I may catch up with you at the depot or even at the new depot in Truganina.
Hope to hear from you.