Sunday Feb 05, 2023

NSW train fight heads to industrial umpire


The NSW government is taking its battle with the rail union to the Fair Work Commission in a bid to stop it from disrupting Sydney’s transport network for a second consecutive week.

The Rail, Tram, and Bus Union is locked in a long-running stoush with the government over the controversial Korean-made Intercity train fleet, arguing it has refused to sign a deal guaranteeing fixes to safety issues.

The government and the RTBU last week failed to broker an end to the dispute after the union knocked out 70 per cent of services on Friday, causing delays and cancellations on parts of the network.

More travel disruption is expected on the network this week, with the union foreshadowing similar action on Wednesday and Friday.

The government on Monday confirmed it would take the union to the nation’s industrial umpire in a bid to head off further action.

“We will be seeking to get a hearing in relation to those matters at the Fair Work Commission to stop industrial action,” Premier Dominic Perrottet told reporters in Sydney.

While the government has signalled it was prepared to spend $264 million to modify the fleet, the union insists it needs written confirmation as previous conciliatory offers were followed by backflips.

Transport Minister David Elliott has vowed to resign if he does not deliver on promises to the union and insists there are no safety concerns with the fleet.

Mr Perrottet reiterated the government’s pledge to fix the fleet.

“We’ve said that publicly, we’re making that a commitment,” he said.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said he was still waiting for transport bosses to sign a document stating it would honour its promise to modify the fleet.

“It’s outrageous that we’re being forced to take action in order to get the NSW government to deliver on what should be a basic responsibility of government – providing a safe railway and fair working conditions for its workforce,” he said in a statement on Monday.

Mr Claassens has said union action would continue to escalate “until such time as we have got a signed deed in our hand”.

Protected action on Monday would see trains sound their whistles, which would not impact on services in the state.

Other actions throughout the week are likely to include cleaners only working at their home depot and drivers not using the network to travel between stations.


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