NSW rail workers agree to a new pay deal and an end to all industrial action


March 24, 2018 20:23:35

A long-running industrial dispute has ended after railway workers across NSW agreed to a new pay deal and an end to industrial action.

Workers from NSW Trains and Sydney Trains voted in favour of a 3 per cent pay rise for the next three years, in a deal that the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) says will improve overall working conditions.

In the postal ballot, 52.8 per cent of NSW Trains employees and 50.8 per cent of Sydney Trains employees voted ‘yes’.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said that while the deal was successful, the fact that it was voted in by such a slim margin showed that many rail workers were still unhappy.

“It’s a very close vote and everybody should look at this very carefully and not actually claim it as a victory, it’s certainly not a victory,” he said.

“The fact that it only just scraped across the line means that the workforce is still very unhappy with everything that’s gone on.”

The enterprise agreements will now go to the Fair Work Commission for approval.

The deal follows months of negotiations and threats of a 24-hour strike by rail workers that would have caused chaos across the network.

The RTBU had initially demanded an annual 6 per cent increase.

One of the main issues it wanted resolved, was around the staffing of a new timetable that it claimed was rolled out before the workforce was prepared, resulting in long delays for commuters and severe overcrowding of trains.

Mr Claassens said the deal would provide the workforce with surety about their conditions over the next three years.

“We’ve been able to improve on a lot of our working conditions which is what we always said was the issue, having people’s rosters change five days before Christmas and New Year, those things have all been addressed in these agreements.”

The union on Saturday sent a directive to its workforce ordering workers to stop all industrial action.

“As the agreement has been voted up, all industrial action needs to now stop,” the directive said.

“If you are on shift when you read this bulletin, you will need to go back to the status quo for clothing and badges from the beginning of your next shift.”

The negotiations had at times been bitterly contested, with Mr Claassens accusing Transport Minister Andrew Constance of being too “arrogant” to talk with the union and Mr Constance describing the threat of strike action as “weird and extraordinary behaviour”.

Mr Claassens said now that the deal was done, there was still work to do to mend the relationship between workers and management.

“We would certainly encourage the minister to take a long, hard think about what this has done to the workforce and try and help us restore some good faith,” he said.

Mr Constance welcomed the agreement and applauded the workforce for “doing the right thing by commuters, doing the right thing by tax payers and most importantly, doing the right thing by themselves by accepting a wages package which … will support them in the excellent work that they do”.

“Today’s result is clear evidence that the union shouldn’t have used commuters as cannon fodder.”






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