Rail cuts threaten jobs and safety

April 18, 2009

RailCorp NSW has announced that it intends carrying out a staff review at CityRail stations under provisions in the current enterprise bargaining agreement. This could mean massive job cuts, including up to 71 positions at Central station alone, according to the April 7 ABC Online.

The proposal has been met with stiff opposition from staff and commuters. CityRail passenger journeys increased by 8.5% in the last five years: from 273 million in 2002-03 to 296.1 million in 2007-08. There are concerns the cuts could give rise to serious safety issues. At Central station, proposed cuts would halve the number of barrier attendants and cut weekend duty managers, along with platform staff, by 40 to 50%.

The major thrust of this station "reform" is modelled on examples from Europe, where rail infrastructure is totally different to that in NSW and less staff-dependent.

RailCorp wants to cut costs after rail workers were given a paltry 4% wage rise (well below inflation) in the latest enterprise bargaining agreement. At the same time, rail revenue has been increasing due to greater patronage and recent fare increases.

On April 8, the Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Australian Services Union held meetings at nine locations and unanimously passed a resolution rejecting the proposals "due to the reduction in service and safety to rail commuters which will lead to massive cuts in staffing levels, gradings, hours of business, station closures and the increase in part time shifts".

The resolution declared support for a "community and political campaign to ensure a fair review process which takes into account individual stations' customer service needs rather than another RailCorp cost cutting measure which fails to meet community expectations".

The rail unions and Unions NSW will meet the state transport minister on April 20.

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