Canberra's bus drivers have finally agreed to a new pay deal after the ACT government backed away from plans to introduce compulsory weekend work.
About 400 drivers voted to accept the terms of a new enterprise bargaining agreement at a Transport Workers Union meeting on Wednesday, signalling the end of long-running negotiations with the government.
The meeting at Canberra Stadium shut down the capital's bus network between 10am and 2.30pm.
The deal rolls over the terms of the drivers' existing agreement, and will include a pay rise of about 10 per cent across the next four years.
The government and the union have been locked in negotiations over a new pay deal for ACTION bus drivers for almost two years.
The main sticking point had been a push from ACTION, which runs the bus network on behalf of the government, to introduce rostered weekend shifts for drivers.
Under the existing deal, drivers volunteer to work on Saturday and Sunday as overtime.
Weekend shifts are set to ramp up in April, when the government rolls out its new bus network. The network will offer faster and more frequent buses, as well as more late-night and evening services.
Transport Workers Union ACT branch secretary Klaus Pinkas said the government dropped its claim for mandatory weekend work about six weeks ago, clearing the path for the new deal to be agreed to.
The union would have considered industrial action had members rejected the government's offer at Wednesday's meeting.
Mr Pinkas said drivers were confident they would be able to staff the extra weekend shifts under the opt-in arrangement.
In an emailed statement to The Canberra Times, a Transport Canberra spokeswoman said the decision to withdraw the claim for rostered weekend work was "based on a mix of feedback received from drivers and further development of the new bus network".
She said the move headed off any potential strike action over the pay deal, which could have jeopardised the launch of the new bus network.
The added weekend shifts will be staffed by a mix of full-time, part-time and casual drivers, she said.
"The ACTION Enterprise Agreement provides commitments to ensuring that all weekend details are covered at all times and that all drivers must be willing to work reasonable numbers of weekend details," she said.
The government has been keen to bolster its driver stocks ahead of the launch of the expanded network, and this year embarked on a campaign to recruit more casual staff to work on weekends and public holidays.
The spokeswoman said the government was continuing with the recruitment drive.
The new driver agreement is expected to be formalised by early February, and come into effect later in the year.
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