Second Metro strike averted

Written By miftah nugraha on Senin, 04 Maret 2013 | 19.55

IT will be business as usual for Metro buses tomorrow, with planned industrial action called off and talks resuming between the company and the drivers' union.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has accepted Metro's invitation to meet for talks at Campbell Town at 10am on Wednesday, scrapping a planned stop-work meeting between 6 and 8pm tomorrow.

"We are going in with an open mind and without any expectations," said union state secretary Samantha Simonetis.

"We want this over as much as Metro."

Metro CEO Heather Haselgrove welcomed the resumption of talks, saying it was excellent news for passengers.

She said the proposed new three-year enterprise agreement, which included an offer of a 2 per cent pay rise, was fair and reasonable.

"This is our best offer," she said. "The only way we can consider any further increase is if the union and employees agree on offsets to cut costs and improve efficiency."

Further stop-work meetings are planned in Burnie, Launceston and Hobart on Thursday from 1 to 2pm and in Launceston and Hobart on Friday from 8 to 10pm, as well as an overtime ban on Friday and Saturday. The industrial action will depend on the outcome of Wednesday's talks.

Ms Haselgrove said Metro had received legal advice that it was unable to prevent industrial action through Fair Work Australia.

"There is little we can do," she said.

She said both parties needed to be prepared to negotiate.

"Perhaps in conversation we can come up with something that's acceptable," Ms Haselgrove said.

Mrs Simonetis said the union had been negotiating for a pay rise for five months and the talks had gone very well until about a month ago.

"Gone are the days when unions bang on desks," she said.

"Every time we have a stop-work meeting, drivers lose pay and many of them live day to day."

About 13,000 passengers -- many of them school students -- were forced to find another mode of transport on Friday when Metro drivers walked off the job during the peak morning period.

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