METRO bus drivers have offered productivity gains that they hope will next week end their dispute but strikes are set to continue until then.
Metro chief executive Heather Haselgrove met the bus union for almost four hours in Campbell Town yesterday and she is expected to tell the union on Thursday or Friday next week if she accepts their offer.
Ms Haselgrove said she was optimistic of finding a resolution and the talks were productive.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union Tasmanian branch secretary Samantha Simonetis said drivers offered greater use of satellite yards - smaller bus parking stations away from the main depots in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie - to improve bus operations and cut costs.
Mrs Simonetis said drivers thought their offer, plus other changes, meant Metro could improve its three-year offer of a 2 per cent yearly increase to their demand of 3 per cent, and Metro would now ``crunch the numbers'' and give an answer next week.
Ms Haselgrove said Metro would have another look at the effect of a faster-than-expected inflation increase during the third year of an agreement, plus consider a two-year, rather than three-year, agreement.
Mrs Simonetis said she was ``a little bit'' hopeful that Metro would agree to their proposal, but drivers would not budge from their 3 per cent demand, and planned stop-work meetings were still going ahead.
Drivers are walking off the job (meaning no buses) between 1pm and 2pm today and 8pm to 10pm tomorrow but overtime bans have been lifted. Metro said passengers should also make other arrangements for an hour each side of the meetings.
Drivers have already walked off the job twice.
Mrs Simonetis said yesterday's meeting was ``rather heated'' at times, but also productive.