Home General News Emergency meeting prior to NSW rail action

Emergency meeting prior to NSW rail action

by Anthony L. Gonzalez

NSW Transport and Finance ministers will attend an emergency meeting with the Rail, Tram, and Bus Union to avoid a union action planned for next week.

Treasury Secretary Damien Tudehope and Transportation Secretary David Elliott are expected at 5 pm Friday afternoon after a meeting scheduled for the morning was canceled.

Train drivers will slow down and refuse to use foreign-built trains as part of four days of industrial action announced after the cancellation of Friday’s 9 am meeting.

Emergency meeting prior to NSW rail action

Union secretary Alex Claassens said the morning meeting was canceled around 10 pm. Thursday, while he was involved with the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. He said he got no explanation.

Transport for NSW informed the union of a meeting at 5 pm Friday afternoon. It gives the state government one last chance to halt the industrial action that begins Tuesday.

Claassens said the government would have to agree to modifications to the new intercity fleet trains, the first of which was delivered in 2019 but never put into service.

Treasurer Matt Kean said in May it cost the government about $30 million a month to stock the trains.

Mr. Claassens said he was tipped ahead of the budget that a $300 million line item would solve the problems the union believes are making the train unsafe. But he has since learned that the money is part of the contract.

On Thursday, Mr. Tudehope asked whether the money in the budget was earmarked for the changes requested by the union.

“I’ll take note of it,” he said.

“Negotiations have yet to take place on how we can agree with the union on the various claims they are making.”

Mr. Tudehope said the new trains were state-of-the-art and had been approved by the National Rail Safety Regulator’s office.

The union has previously said the safety assessment was carried out by the same company that built the trains and had independent reviews that disagreed.

If there is no result by Friday afternoon, union action will begin on Tuesday with a slow movement when motorists do not drive faster than 60 km/h.

On Wednesday, members will be indefinitely banned from going back to the railway operations center and will only work from their current depots on Thursday. There will also be an unrestricted work ban related to Sydney Metro.

On Friday, members were said to refuse to run trains built abroad, putting new trains introduced since 2011 out of service.

Claassens said the network would run at about 30 percent of capacity without those trains. It had already done so recently when the union took similar measures.

“Management has a timetable they can run, where they know which trains to use and how they will operate,” he said.

“They’ve done it before; they can do it again.”

Mr. Claassens said the workers had acted in good faith during the long-running negotiations for a company agreement after the old one expired more than a year ago, but their patience was running out.

“To be honest, they’re a little frustrated with me and other people who said to them, ‘Let’s give the government a chance to be good at this’…they’ve had plenty of time, yet still falter,” he said.

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