UPDATE: Many bus routes in St George could be affected by 24-hour strike from midnight

Thousands of St George bus passengers will be hit by a snap 24-hour strike by bus drivers. Picture; John Veage
Thousands of St George bus passengers will be hit by a snap 24-hour strike by bus drivers. Picture; John Veage

UPDATE THURSDAY

Government bus services in St George may still be disrupted on Thursday despite a late-night order for a proposed strike to be called off.

A Transport Management Centre spokesman said many bus drivers had failed to turn up to depots in Sydney's inner west and south early on Thursday morning, which would have a "severe" impact on the morning commute across the city.

The Industrial Relations Commission ruled on Thursday night the strike was illegal.

However, it was unclear whether the NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union would call off the industrial action, which was to be implemented by drivers calling in sick.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance welcomed the orders from the Industrial Relations Commission.

“I expect the union to comply, and I hope drivers ignore the union bosses' reckless behaviour,” he said on Wednesday night.

“Anyone who takes part in an illegal strike will not be paid.

“I implore all STA drivers to come to work tomorrow, because their customers need to get to school and to work on time.

“I thank drivers who plan to put customers first.

“We will continue to put contingency measures in place for tomorrow to ensure our city is not inconvenienced.”

WEDNESDAY STORY

Thousands of St George workers, school students and other bus users will be a hit by a 24-hour snap strike by government bus drivers.

More than 1000 bus drivers at Kingsgrove, Leichhardt, Burwood and Tempe depots will strike from midnight in protest the NSW government's plans to privatise bus routes.

Privately operated buses will still be running.

The NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union announced the industrial action on Wednesday evening, leaving people with little time to make alternative transport arrangements.

Government-operated bus routes in the 400 series, which runs from 400 to 499, will be affected.

Secretary of the union’s bus division, Chris Preston, said the privatisation announcement was made without consulting the community, and despite workers being assured in writing in December their routes would remain in public hands.

He said drivers were “deeply apologetic” about inconveniencing commuters, but they felt compelled to respond to the “outrageous attack” on public transport.

Rockdale MP Steve Kamper slammed the state government's plans to privatise bus region 6, which includes most bus services currently servicing the Rockdale area.

Mr Kamper said services including the 400, 425, 471, 472, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 479, 492, 494, 499, which are currently operated by Sydney Buses and would be sold off to a private tenderer under the government’s plan.

This would leave only the North Shore, Northern Beaches and Eastern Suburbs of Sydney with publicly operated bus services, he said.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance has stated the privatisation would take place by mid-2018.

Mr Kamper said privatisation of Sydney’s bus services has generally resulted in reduced services and lower performance standards across privatised regions, particularly in the long term.

“The government knows that privatisation of buses will lead to inferior to services – if public buses are good enough for the eastern suburbs and north shore then they’re good enough for Rockdale,” he said.

“The minister has conducted zero public consultation and is holding us here in Rockdale in contempt, we are not second class citizens.”

“This is just another cheap and dirty sell-off, there’s no planning for the future just a quick hit of cash for a tricky Government.”

Mr Constance said, “Unlike the union, this government is about putting customers first”.

He said the was “about union bosses putting themselves before customers, egged on by the Labor Party”.

“I hope the majority of bus drivers who want to deliver a better service to customers ignore their union bosses and show up to work tomorrow,” he said.

“I have been very clear – there will be more jobs for bus drivers, not fewer, as Sydney grows.”