Everyone wants children who ride school buses to be safe as they ride to and from school. School bus drivers make sure that thousands of school children get to school and back every day, and they take their responsibility very seriously. Bus drivers are concerned that right now our children aren’t safe when they take the bus, and we now have an opportunity to change that.
Ritchies Transport Holdings Ltd was recently fined $750 000 after pleading guilty to charges under the Health and Safety at Work Act. Brakes had failed on one of Ritchie’s buses, killing three passengers and injuring dozens more. Ritchies Transport Holdings have lucrative government contracts with the Ministry of Education to safely deliver children to and from school. These contracts are currently up for re-tender.
Ritchies Bus Drivers who are members of FIRST Union have reported numerous incidents and near misses relating to the lack of maintenance on their vehicles. One driver noted an incident from March when the bus brakes failed.The bus was parked and the brake was on, according to the driver’s written report.
There were eight children on the bus, and the driver was outside cleaning the windscreen and mirrors when the bus started rolling away.
The driver said they managed to stop the bus as it rolled into an intersection in a 100kmh zone, before hitting the house on the other side of the intersection with the children onboard.
Bus Drivers are concerned that the proposed tendering process does not adequately address the systemic issues that lead to incidents of this kind. These issues could go on for another decade, given the length of the contracts.
Maintenance isn’t the only issue. The current tendering process results in poor health and safety care when it comes to driving hours and paying bottom of the barrel wages. School Bus drivers deliver an invaluable service every day and they want employers that care as much about child safety as you do.
Every day we put our trust in school bus drivers to get our kids to school and home again safely. However, corporate bus operators prioritise profit over safety to compete for lucrative government school bus contracts, putting our kids at risk.
One current school bus operator has recently been convicted of killing three people and injuring dozens more, yet under the current tendering model, they will still fit the criteria and are likely to pick up the new contracts. School bus drivers are determined to ensure that only quality operators win the contracts; we have created a simple 3 point charter to ensure the best operators win the work.
Sign here to let the government know, we all care.
Safe buses Charter
1. Operator is fit and proper
a) “Maintain awareness of, and comply with, all applicable laws and regulations of the countries where they operate and refrain from any illegal conduct.”
b) The company and/or any of its directors has not been convicted of an offence that is punishable by two (2) or more years’ imprisonment.
2. Proper health and safety systems are in place
a) Including worker elected health and safety committees and workgroups.
b) Maintain a modern bus fleet with adequate investment in repair and maintenance.
3. Quality staff are attracted and maintained
a) Adequate training
b) Living wages are paid