New South Wales, Australia
Up to 3,000 private bus drivers are set to take part in a prolonged statewide strike in the lead-up to Christmas.
In a dramatic escalation of a long-running industrial dispute, the union representing the state's four largest private bus companies - Veolia, Busways, Premier Illawarra and Comfort Delgro Cabcharge - yesterday gained permission from Fair Work Australia to conduct a vote on industrial action among drivers.
''Drivers will continue to fight until we get a fair deal - it could be weeks, it could be months,'' a Transport Workers Union official, Michael Aird, said. ''We have been negotiating since April, but there doesn't appear to be any agreement.''
The drivers are demanding a 4 per cent rise each year for three years, and enhanced self-defence and occupational health and safety training. They are also angry about a lack of basic facilities such as toilets and eating areas when they are between runs.
Unlike their state government counterparts who are returned to their depots between trips, private bus drivers are often left in sheds without toilet facilities.