In New South Wales, 96.3% of rail workers have voted in favour of strike action to further their campaign for a new enterprise bargaining agreement. The combined unions campaign committee notified Railcorp this would take the form of a fare-free day involving station staff and transport officers.
Strikes at maintenance depots and workshops are planned at Hornsby, Flemington, Mortdale, Sydenham and Eveleigh for all Rail, Tram and Bus Union members on August 5 from 10am-2pm.
All RTBU office workers at Burwood and Granville will strike the same day from 11am-1pm.
Track workers will strike on August 6 from 10pm until 6am the next day.
Mass meetings are planned to decide on further action over the next month if the dispute is not satisfactorily resolved.
Workers want a minimum 5% pay rise with no trade-off in conditions. Railcorp, however, wants to trade-off working conditions for any rise above the NSW government’s “no trade-off” maximum wage rise of 2.5%.
Rail workers are also angry at job cuts instigated by management. They say less workers means less customer service and less safety for the public.
NSW transport minister John Robertson said the parties in the dispute are being directed to negotiate in good faith. This is a hollow platitude as negotiations have been dragging on for almost four month due to Railcorp and the government’s rejection of claims put forward by union negotiators.
Another indication that the NSW government is failing on public transport is the that the federal government has issued a second rebuke on funding to the state government due to its poor record on planning and infrastructure.
Projects such as the promised Parramatta-to-Epping rail link have been dusted off by the government at election time for years, only to be forgotten after the government wins re-election.
Under these circumstances, the rail workers actions are a necessary as part of the push to create a decent transport network for the people of NSW.