Dec 11

Inside Mona Vale’s Christmas bus

It’s time to get out the bells and tinsel for the annual Christmas Bus competition!

The defending champions at Mona Vale depot have already decked out two buses this year. Here’s a sneak peak inside their Christmas Bendy Bus:

The Christmas Bus competition is run every year and depots compete to win a cash prize they then donate to their local charity of choice.

Graham Christie from Mona Vale depot has high hopes they’ll take out the prize again this year and says the key to winning is enthusiasm.

“We had 22 people helping out on the Christmas bus this year. I’ve never seen this sort of thing happen at another depot.”

But he admits that competition is fierce. “Well we are up with some pretty stiff competition with Ryde and Kingsgrove, as we are every year… but I think with this bus we’re in with a good chance.”


Graham Christie, Rita Shapazidou and Matt Compton show off Mona Vale depot’s Christmas Bus

But it’s not all about winning the prize.

Many bus operators love driving the Christmas Bus because of the smile it puts on the passengers’ faces when they are lucky enough to get to board one.

“We often have people get on the bus in the city just to take pictures, then they get off at the next stop. People love it!” said Rita Sahpazidou, also from Mona Vale depot.

Has your depot gotten in to the Christmas spirit yet? Send us your Christmas Bus photos by emailing

Dec 10

You don’t have to drive when bus air conditioning is faulty

Union Delegates are getting complaints from members claiming that they feel intimidated by Radio Room Officials insisting that they continue to operate buses when the air conditioning has failed. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Members should note:

  • No Supervisor, including Radio Room can force you to drive a bus in service where the air conditioning has failed.
  • You should be polite but firm and insist on a changeover
  • Unlike the old buses, our passengers cannot open windows on new buses
  • opening roof hatches is entirely inadequate and unenforceable.
  • You cannot be disciplined for insisting on a changeover when bus air conditioning has failed. The interests of the health and wellbeing of you and your passengers are paramount

Please note the following extract from a STA Safety Committee Report:-

“Air Conditioning Function – The bus is not to operate c/o to be sent out if air conditioning is not working STA/Radio Room advised bus not to be used if malfunctioning, directive sent to STA from OH&S Angela Bateman”.

Workmates must stand together on this issue and say NO or the intimidation will continue.

Dec 10

Election results

Election Results

RTBU Election Results have now been declared and for the positions of NSW Tram and Bus Divisional President and NSW Tram and Bus Divisional Secretary, the results are as follows:-


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Having been returned for a second term, Chris Preston and Gary Way would like to congratulate members for their high level of participation in depot attendance ballots and postal ballots.

Click here for detailed results for all positions.

Without doubt, members of the Tram and Bus Division were more engaged in the 2014 Union Elections than any other Division in the NSW Branch – a show of strength that we can take pride in.

All serving depot Delegates who stood for re-election were returned highlighting incredible stability at Executive level. New Delegates were elected at Brookvale – Ed Robinson, Ryde – Ian McPherson and Waverley – Peter Tsapepas, all of whom are very welcome additions to the Divisional Committee.

Tram and Bus Divisional Organiser David Woollams was unopposed for the honorary positions of Assistant NSW Branch Secretary – Road and National Vice President – Road. Gary Way was elected to the position of Assistant National Secretary (Tram and Bus), with Chris Preston also elected to serve on the National Executive. Our Division now has considerable influence within the “wider” Union, both State and National.

Finally, a thank you to all members who stood for various positions – democracy is alive and well in our Union.

The next RTBU Elections are due in 2018.

Dec 1

NSW RTBU Remuneration Report For 2014

The RTBU NSW is a member based, state & federally registered trade union representing members whose usual place of work is located within the State of New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) together with members employed rail, tram (light rail) and government owned and operated bus industries.

The reporting unit’s activities are directed by the NSW Branch Executive and NSW Branch Council in accordance with our objectives and rules of registration.

Click here to read more: NSW_RTBU_Remuneration_Report_2014

Dec 1

Randwick depot gets into the Christmas spirit

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Santa and helper Ivan

Around 50 people came out into the sunshine to enjoy the festivities and it was hard to tell who had more fun – the children or the adults.

Juiced up on all the sugary trimmings, the kids battled it out to the tunes of wild cat Webster in the dance off competition.

Meanwhile, the adults flung themselves into the annual tug of war challenge which was won controversially by the ladies team, who were anchored by what some described as a super natural force bringing victory to the mothers and grandmothers.

Santa’s effort in the heat was remarkable and everyone agreed he deserved a well earned beer afterwards.

If Santa’s effort was outstanding, the cook standing in the heat next to the BBQ plate all day was even more so – thanks Rhys!

It was a great day had by all and a huge thank you to the Randwick bus depot institute for their hard work.

Dec 1

Know Your Rights: Paid Maternity Leave

with Brett Peters….

62. Paid maternity leave

62.1 A female permanent employee is entitled to paid maternity leave in accordance with this clause and with State Transit’s Parenting Leave Procedures.

62.2 An employee who has, or will have, completed 40 weeks continuous service before the expected date of birth, is entitled to paid maternity leave.

62.3 Maternity leave is a period of not more than four weeks prior to the expected date of birth and not more than 52 weeks after the actual date of birth.

Nov 19

North Shore Times: Sydney’s friendliest bus driver

David Thomas shows off his trademark grin.

David Thomas shows off his trademark grin.

  • Bus driver David Thomas will retire after 54 years and1.65 million km
  • His attitude marks him out as one of Sydney’s friendliest bus drivers
  • He’s so popular with passengers they buy gifts when he changes route
  • To farewell Mr Thomas call 9941 9214

After 54 years driving and conducting buses David Thomas knows Sydney roads like the back of his hand.

But it’s not his local knowledge that makes him a firm favourite with passengers.

In a profession not always known for its warmth, Mr Thomas,73, of Artarmon has forged a reputation as one of Sydney’s friendliest bus drivers, brightening up the day of each passenger who climbs on board with his beaming smile.

He begins with a friendly approach to each new customer.

“Everyday after that they smile back,” he said. “You don’t get too many smiles today but we try,” he said.

“It’s a nice attitude to have.”

The affection for the veteran bus driver among passengers is so great that he receives gifts and cards when he changes bus route, according to Willoughby Bus Depot manager Jay Zmijewski.

“It’s not only about driving buses, he genuinely cares about the community,” Mr Zmijewski said.

“It’s rare to have an employee who is happy to be here every day but he always has a smile on his face and is always happy to be here.

“His positivity rubs off on all those around him.”

By the time Mr Thomas clocks off for the last time on December 5, he will have driven about 1.65 million km, working full-time from 1960 until 2004 before going part-time a decade ago.

This will be his second attempt at retirement, 13 years after he first tried to call it a day.

“He missed his job,” Mr Zmijewski said.

It all began on April 1, 1960, Mr Thomas’ first day at work.

The then 19-year-old Willoughby-raised teen was working in a grocery store along Frenchs Rd, Willoughby when he met a bus conductor who recommended her job.

He successfully applied for the job and worked as a bus conductor for the next two years after which he switched to the driver’s role.

In the late 1980s he became a bus assessor, training new drivers over the next 15 years.

“I’ve loved the job right from the beginning,” he said.

“I felt very well-rewarded knowing I taught the new drivers everything.

“That made me feel really good.”

David Thomas at Willoughby Bus Depot.

David Thomas at Willoughby Bus Depot.

After a career spanning more than half a century,changes to the bus transport industry and wider society have made today a “different world” according to Mr Thomas.

“Everybody coming into work had a smile on their face,” Mr Thomas said.

“It was more relaxing in those days because there were conductors so the pressure was off the driver and all he had to do was worry about the road rules.”

“Public relations were great and there were very few arguments with passengers.”

In the 1970s, Mr Thomas was involved in strike action against Transport Department’s move to abolish conductors.

The lengthy strike left him without wages for six weeks, which he said were around $15 a day around that time. The strike ended with a $50 weekly pay rise offer.

While the abolition of bus conductors has been a major change over his time as a driver, he said the buses themselves have gone from being completely manual, double decker buses with two conductors on each, to today’s fully automated, cashless ticketing systems.

“Things started to change in the early 90s when people had more responsibilities at work,” he said.

“The humanistic side of things began to drift away.

“In the early days, you would actually talk to the passengers and there was a definite friendship among passengers and people weren’t on their phones.”

Mr Zmijewski said Mr Thomas has handled change well, all the while holding one of the depot’s best work attendance records.

“People usually find it difficult to change but he’s adapted so well,” he said.

“He’s remained so young in his mind.”

His good work attendance record was helped by advice from a former boss, Charlie Carts, the depot’s first manager.

“I used to sleep very heavily before I got married and didn’t hear the alarm clock going off in the morning,” he said.

“The manager said I should put my alarm clock in a 22 gallon drum, then I wouldn’t have any trouble sleeping in.”

“I never slept in after that.”

There will be little sleeping in following his last day at work next month, with Mr Thomas believing in keeping active in retirement.

“So many of my mates didn’t last long after retirement so you have to do something when you leave,” he said.

With his five children in four different towns in NSW and another in Perth, Mr Thomas plans to take turns visiting them and the seven grandchildren they have between them.

“(Retirement) has been on my mind and to lengthen the thought I said ‘I’m in good health and I can enjoy myself and my family’,” he said.

David Thomas is looking forward to more time with his family in retirement.

David Thomas is looking forward to more time with his family in retirement.

“That’s the big thing.”

The move will also mark leaving the north shore to relocate to Perth, with one of his sons, where he said he will pursue his passion for model trains.

“Anybody who knows Willoughby knows it’s a family place,” he said.

“There’s always been that closeness and friendship.

“Definitely over the years it’s become one big, happy family.”

A morning tea has been planned for his final day on December.

To farewell Mr Thomas, call the depot on 9941 9214. 

Nov 7

Vale Leo Griffin

It is with great sadness that Randwick depot reports the passing of Bus Operator Leo Griffin.

Family, friends, work colleagues and the RTBU Union congregated at Central Station as mark of respect for Leo as his last wishes were fulfilled.

Having been an avid train enthusiast it was only fitting that Leo’s final journey be carried out aboard an Old Diesel Locomotive 3801.

Leo’s career with State Transit spanned over 20 years and his legacy will be remembered for a long time to come. Leo’s akubra and personality will be sadly missed within State Transit.


Nov 6

Meet Your Local Delegate – Andy West

Andy West


Why did you become involved in the union?
 I’ve always enjoyed working with people and helping others. I see being part of the union as an extension of that. Helping people is my main motivator.

What are your hobbies and interests?
 I collect first editions of books –my most prized are my two signed first editions, ‘Money’ by Martin Amis and L’Etranger (The Stranger) by Albert Camus. I love literature, the spoken and written word – before working as a bus driver I worked as a copywriter.

Where do you live and why do you like it? I’ve recently moved to the Blue Mountains from the inner west, where I had lived with my wife and kids for around 30 years. I’m really enjoying the ‘tree change’ and the lifestyle.

Who would you like to have dinner with (dead or alive) and why?
 I’d love to sit down with Gough Whitlam and Neville Wran so I can ask them what it was like to come into office and make sweeping changes in so many areas.

Nov 3

Working with children check

Members are advised that they should wait until next year before they pay the $80 to do their next working with children check. Unions NSW still has this matter before the IRC where they are continuing the fight to win this dispute.



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