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More train strikes ahead in union bid to secure rail worker pay and conditions

Updated: Aug 25, 2022

The RTBU (Rail Tram & Bus Union) is set to strike from midnight next Thursday.

After weeks of sporadic strike action, it’s expected that the RTBU (Rail Tram & Bus Union) will carry out more strike action from midnight next Thursday (28 July), amid what the government says are "outrageous wage claim[s]".

The NSW government is labelling a new round of strike action as a tactic to pressure the government into agreeing to “outrageous” wage increases equating to an overall pay increase of 16.5% in the first year.

The RTBU says the four-hour stoppage planned for next Thursday will begin at midnight and run until 4am in response to what RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens says is a stubborn refusal by the government to agree to confirm they will implement safety changes on the regulation ridden NIF (New Intercity Fleet) without compromising workers’ wages or conditions.

"This dispute has never been about safety, it is about exorbitant pay demands, job protection, and the egos of union leaders" - Damien Tudehope, NSW Minister for Finance and Employee Relations

Mr Classens asserted the action is orchestrated to get the attention of management and the NSW Government, conceding the stoppage of trains in the early hours may have impact for early Thursday morning commuters adding, “this might be some sort of ideological game for some Ministers, but it’s not for rail workers. This is about keeping commuters safe and simply giving our essential rail workers the basic take-home pay and conditions they deserve.”

“It’s incredibly disappointing that we’re being forced to take protected industrial action yet again,” Mr Claassens said. “This could have all been over a long time ago if the government just did the right thing and fixed these unsafe trains.

Both sides are claiming the other are playing political games with the RTBU saying NIF trains are unsafe, and the Government citing independent regulators signing off on the safety of the trains certifying them for operation, despite this, the Government has agreed to make changes to the fleet at a cost of $264 million as well as agreeing to a list of more than 70 items put forward by the union.

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The Government says the offers have been put in writing, adding “any suggestion otherwise is purely a delaying tactic by the unions to provide cover for further industrial action.”

Minister for Employee Relations Damien Tudehope yesterday met with the unions to continue negotiations and press the Government’s reasonable offer.

“With every additional day causing industrial chaos on the rail network owned by the people of NSW, the unions expect hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to be funnelled into their pay packets,” Mr Tudehope said, adding, “This dispute has never been about safety, it is about exorbitant pay demands, job protection, and the egos of union leaders.”

The Rail Workers Union are asking for a 3.5% pay increase as part of its current enterprise agreement negotiations.

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