SYDNEY, AAP – Sydney commuters are facing delays as an already reduced public transport timetable is hit by ongoing industrial action.
Members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union are taking industrial action over the next two weeks, with bans on overtime, working with foreign rolling stock and working alongside contractors.
NSW Transport Minister David Elliott will meet with the union on Monday to try and resolve the long-running dispute.
“Some of their claims are legitimate and some of them are quite bizarre,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Monday.
He doesn’t expect “too much of an inconvenience” for commuters.
He advised commuters to check the NSW Rail website for the frequency of services and rearrange their travel accordingly.
“Frontline workers deserve a pay rise but what workers deserve and what taxpayers can afford are two different things,” he said.
The union’s refusal to work on foreign-made rolling stock was “extraordinary”, as was the ban on overtime, which would only hurt the rank and file members’ families, he said.
RTBU organising director Toby Warnes said last week that despite “many months of bargaining” since the enterprise bargaining agreement expired in May, management for Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink were “still failing to show members and delegates the respect that they deserve”.
Mr Warnes said after ignoring union requests to ensure safety and hygiene were protected while giving drivers an overdue pay rise, management of the rail operators were now seeking to put changes “into policy rather than into the enterprise agreement”.
“Policy can be changed at the whim of management, whereas an enterprise agreement is legally enforceable by members,” Mr Warnes says.
Transport for NSW says negotiations are ongoing but have reached “a number of concessions already … which could be included in a final agreement”.
There had been six meetings between the rail operators and the unions already this year, on top of more than 30 negotiations last year.
The industrial action will continue until February 21 and is expected to cause delays and cancellations on the Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink Intercity and regional train networks. Some regional trains could be replaced by buses.