COMMUTERS are facing the prospect of growing disruption to public transport services with the industrial dispute between Metro and its bus drivers set to escalate.
Yesterday, drivers went on strike between 6am and 9am and Metro was notified by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union they would stop work in Launceston, Burnie and Hobart again next week, on Thursday between 1pm and 2pm and Friday from 8pm to 10pm.
There will also be no overtime worked on Friday and Saturday, March 9.
Drivers earlier said they would also walk off the job on Tuesday between 6pm and 8pm.
Metro management has not ruled out a legal move to stop the disruption.
Union branch secretary Samantha Simonetis did not return calls yesterday but earlier said Metro could end the dispute by taking the matter to the Fair Work Commission.
When asked if Metro was considering going to the commission, a spokesman said the state-owned bus company was exploring its options and would know more on Monday.
Metro chief executive Heather Haselgrove also repeated her pledge that Metro was open to negotiations and happy to discuss trading cost savings for pay increases.
Metro has offered a 2 per cent pay rise each year for three years plus other benefits, but drivers want 3 per cent a year.
A state government spokesman said the matter was an industrial negotiation between an employer and a union, separate from the government and it would be inappropriate to intervene or ``take sides''.
The Education Department and commuters said yesterday's strike, when drivers walked off the job from 6am until 9am, caused problems.
At least 700 students missed school yesterday and bus users said they had to make other plans.
One person waiting at a St John Street bus stop yesterday morning said she had to delay a trip by 30 minutes to get a bus.
Another said she was not inconvenienced yesterday, but on Thursday had to walk across Launceston when drivers walked off the job.
Opposition sustainable transport spokesman Matthew Green said the state government should ask the Fair Work Commission to stop the strikes, as the dispute was disruptive and damaging.