Rank-and-file ticket scores breakthrough in RBTU elections

February 26, 2011

The national and state elections results for the Rail Tram and Bus union (RTBU) have been partially counted.

In New South Wales, the incumbent right-wing Labor leadership team, called Unity, was challenged by Members Voice, a broad united front of those who advocate increased funding and staffing, and a clear strategy to reverse privatisation. This was the first challenge to the incumbents since the 1980s.

Significantly, MV candidate Tony Clear polled 2005 votes to win the NSW branch president position, knocking off Unity stalwart Mick Schmitzer, who polled 1898. Adam Purkis, a member of Socialist Alliance and MV, won the signallers sub-division branch vice-president position.

The position of branch secretary was contested by three candidates. MV candidate John Coleman polled 1204 votes, Alex Classens, the incumbent for Unity, polled 1969 and Ken Mason, a former MV member, polled 767. Classens was outpolled by his two opponents with 1971. However Mason did not preference MV and Classens won after preferences were allocated.

The NSW assistant secretary position was also close with a three-way contest. David Woollams, the incumbent Unity candidate, won with 1973 votes after preferences. MV candidate John Messenger polled 1758. Peter Vrettos, an independent candidate also opposed to Unity, polled 389. Vrettos was accepted as a member of MV after the nominations closed. In an email after the election, he apologised to Messenger for splitting the MV vote.

In the locomotive divisional secretary contest Bob Hayden for Unity won with 628 votes (51.9%). MV candidate Damian Bevan polled 582 (48%).

The fantastic result for MV — the underdog in the race, standing up against a powerful, right-wing ALP electoral machine — shows that workers in the public transport sector are sick to death of Labor’s sellouts.

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