Station staff oppose automatic ticket
By Garry Walters
MELBOURNE — A September 8 stop-work meeting of suburban railway station staff resolved unanimously to support the Public Transport Union (PTU) opposition to plans to introduce an Automatic Fare Collection System (AFCS). This system would be tendered out to a private contractor.
Last March the PTU accepted a "reform agreement" with the government to gain concessions such as saving some of the many country rail lines which transport minister Alan Brown had announced would be closed.
The government claims that the agreement included allowing the AFCS with only about 300 "customer service employees" (CSE) to remain in the Public Transport Corporation out of the 2000 or so station staff, tram conductors and associated workers now involved.
The PTU insists that the "reform agreement" only committed the union to negotiate about automatic ticket machines being used to assist PTU staff.
The station staff resolution called for a further stop-work meeting as soon as possible to discuss the AFCS-CSE threat. The resolution proposed that the next meeting involve the whole PTU Railway Operations Division, which includes station staff, guards, shunters, signallers, conductors, trading and catering and freight handlers.
PTU chief executive Ian Dobbs last month provided the PTU with an impact statement admitting that AFCS would complete the current partial elimination of conductors from trams, leave only 40-50 rail stations staffed and eliminate many other ticket, revenue, instillation, maintenance, administrative and even management jobs in the PTC.
The plan would be the death sentence for what is already a deteriorating and less patronised public transport network.