Bus drivers strike, services cancelled

Almost 200 bus drivers at the Transit Systems depot in Smithfield have walked off the job over what the Transport Workers' Union (TWU) claims as COVID safety risks in the workplace stemming from the lack of workplace COVID testing.

The closure of the depot has caused a "significant number" of bus services to be cancelled today across the Liverpool, Fairfield, Merrylands and Parramatta areas.

TWU NSW State Secretary Richard Olsen said earlier today that a driver at the depot had tested positive for COVID-19.

"This is as clear a demonstration as you'll ever get of the need for rapid antigen testing in bus depots," said Mr Olsen, who also confirmed a driver at Transit System's Hoxton Park depot tested positive last week leading to more than 70 other workers at the site being classified as close or casual contacts.

"Just this Monday, drivers at four depots - including Smithfield - walked off the job over this health and safety concern. The NSW Government ignored their calls, and now unfortunately the drivers have been proven right.

"I don't know what more it will take for the NSW Government to take the safety of bus drivers seriously.

"They've already got rapid antigen testing at the NSW Parliament, and so the question that Gladys Berejiklian needs to answer is simple - why does she deserve a safe workplace while our bus drivers don't?"

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the safety of staff and customers is their "number one priority".

"Transport for NSW is already in the process of trialling Rapid Antigen Testing across key work locations of the network," the spokesperson said.

"For privacy reasons, Transport for NSW won't go into the details of individual cases, however staff and customers can be assured there is process in place for when staff members test positive to COVID-19, which is in line with NSW health advice and protocols.

"Transport for NSW will continue to follow all Health advice and the COVIDSafe Transport Plan remains in place across the network, including enhanced cleaning.

"The use of RAT within Transport is intended as an extra measure to protect staff and customer and to ensure the continuation of services. It is not related to requirements under the current Public Health Orders.

"Under the Public Health Order, transport workers in the affected LGAs are eligible for priority vaccination appointments and we are working with industry to encourage all transport workers to take up the vaccine available to them."

Bus services will not depart the Smithfield Depot this afternoon due to the disruptions caused by the industrial action.

"As a result of this, a significant number of bus services in western Sydney have been cancelled and will not be operating today," the spokesperson said.

"Transport for NSW is working to minimise impacts to customers but we do encourage customers to find alternative travel arrangements at this time.

"Replacement buses are being arranged and will be on the T80 route shortly."


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