A BUS strike is throwing schools, families and workers into chaos as Metro drivers walk off the job this morning over a pay dispute.
The strike is on from 6am until 9am, causing mayhem for those who use the service.
Yesterday, Riverside High principal Christine Males said the strike would cause disruptions, and teachers had made provision to integrate late arrivals into classes, while Launceston Church Grammar School principal Stephen Norris said the school had hired three buses to transport 160 students affected by the industrial action.
``Obviously it is money that we really don't want to have to spend, but it is a necessary thing to get the kids to school,'' Mr Norris said.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union Tasmanian branch secretary Samantha Simonetis said drivers were determined to win a 3 per cent pay rise, not the 2 per cent rise offered by Metro management.
``We have been pushed into a corner, this is the only option we have,'' Mrs Simonetis said.
``We have tried everything. This is a last resort . . . we have bargained in good faith for five months.''
The dispute looks set to drag on, with drivers planning to walk off the job on Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm.
Metro chief executive Heather Haselgrove said the offer of a 2 per cent pay rise each year for three years was fair.
``With a very high level of taxpayer funding and falling patronage, Metro has no capacity to increase the offer without finding real ways to reduce costs,'' Ms Haselgrove said.
She said the offer also included an agreement to compress wage classifications, meaning drivers could more quickly climb to the top pay scale.
When combining the pay rise and the classification compression offer, first-year Metro drivers would have a 31.4 per cent pay rise over three years, 17.8 per cent for second-year drivers, 14.3 per cent for third and fourth year divers, 8.5 per cent for fifth and sixth years with no driver receiving less than 6 per cent.
Mrs Simonetis said Metro could end the strikes instantly by taking the dispute to the Fair Work Commission.
But Ms Haselgrove said she was seeking legal advice and it was not a simple matter of referring the dispute for conciliation or arbitration.
Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations president Jen Eddington said many students depended on Metro, especially those coming into Hobart or Launceston from outlying areas.
"With this huge disruption to school students they (drivers) have probably lost some support that they had last week," she said.
"It would have been better if the designated student bus services were exempted."
Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said Metro management was "ridiculous".
"For a very small (increased offer) cost, they are putting the Tasmanian community to such inconvenience and I don't think they are serious about negotiating an outcome satisfactory to everyone," Mr Harkins said.
The RACT has suggested drivers allow more time, car pool, be prepared to park further away than normal from their destination and avoid peak time if they can.