Independent Member for Bass, Lara Alexander, MPIndependent Member for Lyons, John Tucker MP

Independent MHA’s Lara Alexander (Bass) and John Tucker (Lyons) have called on Deputy Premier Michael Ferguson to intervene in an on-going dispute between Metro Tasmania and its mechanics.

The pair said that Mr Ferguson, in his role as Transport Minister, needed to stop hiding behind the excuse that Government cannot intervene in negotiations between a Government Business Enterprise and its workforce.

Metro has been in a long-running dispute with its mechanics over, amongst other issues, providing training to the workforce to allow it to perform maintenance on newly introduced Battery Electric buses, which are being trialled in Launceston.

The mechanics claim that while an agreement to provide a nationally recognised training had been reached initially, none had been provided, creating a potentially dangerous workplace.

Mrs Alexander said the result of the failure to provide training was a ludicrous situation whereby fly-in, fly-out contractors would be bought in to service the electric vehicles, supplemented by local mechanics with zero training.

“The Deputy-Premier is always eager to brag that the Rockliff Government is creating jobs for Tasmanians, so Tasmanians don’t have to go to the mainland, yet here he is, happy that a Tasmanian GBE is bringing in workers from the mainland instead of training its own local workforce,” Mrs Alexander said.

“If, after the trial, Metro decides to adopt Battery Electric vehicles, it stands to reason that the company will need a trained workforce to service its fleet.

“In any case, regardless of whether the trial proves successful, if the local workforce is being asked to provide day-to-day maintenance on the electric buses, at a bare minimum Metro should ensure that nationally recognised accredited training is provided.

Mr Tucker said the dispute threatened to derail the bus trials and provided a window into the wider failings of the Rockliff Government.

“The bus trials have been on the books for two and a half years and the Government still appears unable to organise the mechanical staff training to make it happen,” Mr Tucker said.

“That is best illustrated by its tone-deaf imposition of massive tax increases in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

“Our public hospitals are a mess and people with life threatening conditions are waiting longer than other Australians for access to care, and our schools are under performing with our Year 12 completion rate way below any other State.

“This Government, on its record, is failing this generation and failing future generations and it’s time for it to get real and deal with issues important to everyday Tasmanians.”

Mrs Alexander said that any organisation’s biggest asset was its staff, but Metro, with Minister Ferguson’s blessing, seemed hellbent on dividing its staff into ‘haves and have nots’.

“The Minister recently announced funding was available to increase the drivers’ pays but Metro has seemingly left the mechanics behind, instead engaging in messaging that creates confusion and more division,” she said.

“I urge the Minister to intervene, genuinely engage with people, listen to their arguments and broker a solution that benefits everybody.”

Saturday 9th December, 2023.

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