SYDNEY, AAP – The first time in many years that NSW train services ground to a halt will hopefully be the last, a senior transport official says.
Train drivers stopped work across Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services from 9am until 1pm on Tuesday, causing major disruptions across the network.
The industrial action comes during negotiations for a new enterprise agreement, where the parties remain at loggerheads over pay and safety issues.
Transport for NSW chief operations officer Howard Collins said it was the first official stoppage of the railway in “many, many years”.
“And let’s hope that it’s the last,” he said.
Delays on Sydney’s Inner West Light Rail also occurred as workers at the Pyrmont depot stopped work in the morning from 7am and again in the afternoon.
More buses and ferries were added to assist commuters, while limited coaches replaced regional TrainLink routes that were cancelled all day.
Most services will resume as per normal on Wednesday.
Unions say they planned the action for weeks, especially around getting essential workers to and from work.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens said there could be more industrial action in the next month if the government continued to ignore workers’ demands.
Mr Claassens said the NSW government was refusing to send someone significant to the negotiating table.
“NSW Trains and Sydney Trains senior management have not once met with their employees to discuss their combined claims. Saying we’ve been forced to take industrial action is not an exaggeration,” he said.
“All we’re asking for is a clean, safe and efficient transport system to work in and to be paid fairly for the work we’re doing.”
Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said they were dealing with a workforce of more than 10,000 represented by seven unions.
“So it’s quite a complex employee agreement that we’re working through,” he said.
Mr Longland said there had been about six meetings so far with combined unions that would continue, and the bargaining was best done “at the bargaining table”.
The union is asking for a 3.5 per cent wage rise, while the NSW government is offering 0.3 per cent for the first year of a new enterprise agreement.
Other issues include restructuring people into other roles, outsourcing of COVID-19 cleaning jobs, and the absence of mandatory on-site virus testing.