Train driv­ers pre­pared to strike


Syd­ney train driv­ers have voted over­whelm­ingly for in­dus­trial action — with 94 per cent vot­ing for strikes in a bal­lot an­nounced last night. But it ap­pears un­likely any action will take the form of a strike ini­tially and will more likely in­volve some lesser mea­sure such as over­time bans.

A strike would be a dis­as­ter for the state gov­ern­ment and Trans­port Min­is­ter An­drew Con­stance, who is al­ready reel­ing from two days of de­lays this week be­cause of light­ning strikes, driv­ers call­ing in sick and dif­fi­cul­ties as­so­ci­ated with a new timetable.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union is seek­ing a pay in­crease of 6 per cent a year over four years for train driv­ers and guards — up from the gov­ern­ment’s 2.5 per cent a year wages cap.

The bal­lot for pro­tected in­dus­trial action saw 94 per cent of Syd­ney Trains work­ers sup­port­ing stop­pages of up to 72 hours, 84 per cent sup­port­ing a one­week or in­def­i­nite strike and 90 per cent sup­port­ing par­tial work bans or over­time bans.

In a state­ment last night, Alex Claassens, the NSW sec­re­tary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, said: “What this means is that the op­tion to take var­i­ous forms of pro­tected in­dus­trial action is now live, but we are still very hope­ful we won’t have to go down that path.

“In­dus­trial action is al­ways a last re­sort. Man­age­ment are in a po­si­tion to avoid that sit­u­a­tion, and we’re still very hope­ful they’ll come to the ta­ble and ne­go­ti­ate a fair and rea­son­able of­fer be­fore we get to the point of action.

“It’s im­por­tant to stress that, at this stage, no action is be­ing un­der­taken. Com­muters will al­ways be given as much no­tice as pos­si­ble of any action.”

The en­ter­prise agree­ment cov­ers about 9000 work­ers em­ployed by Syd­ney and NSW Trains.

“All work­ers are ask­ing for is a com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing their ba­sic work­place con­di­tions and a fair wage in­crease, but man­age­ment is cur­rently re­fus­ing to pro­vide that,” Mr Claassens said.

“We know our Trans­port Min­is­ter has his sights set on pri­vatis­ing more and more of our trans­port ser­vices, and work­ers are rightly wor­ried about what that will mean for their jobs.”

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