In response to the decision by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to order Sydney train drivers to suspend their planned 24-hour strike on January 29, ACTU secretary Sally McManus declared: "The right to strike in Australia is close to being dead."
Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU)
Even though the NSW government convinced Fair Work deputy commissioner, Jonathan Hamberger on January 25 that the Rail Tram and Bus Union’s (RBTU) overtime ban and proposed 24-hour strike should be suspended, Sydney’s hard-pressed commuters continue to support railway workers’ demand for an agreement that does not mean drivers have to work overtime to take home a fair wage.
Railway workers want a wage rise of 6% a year over the next four years to bring them in line with wages for drivers in other states.
In the wake of the horrific burning to death of Brisbane bus driver Manmeet Sharma on October 28, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) held a national day of respect on November 9 to highlight the issue of driver safety across Australia.
In a statement RTBU national president Phil Altieri said: “It was an honour to join sisters and brothers from across the union movement today in honouring Manmeet Sharma (Alisher).
Over the past two weeks the Victorian Labor government has ramped up its hostile rhetoric towards rail and tram workers fighting to defend their rights.
This culminated in joint legal action taken in the Fair Work Commission with rail boss Metro Trains against the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) in a bid to stop railway workers from taking strike action on September 4.
It failed to stop the strike going ahead.
An emotional and highly charged stopwork meeting of hundreds of tram workers jammed into Trades Hall on August 27 to hear a report on their dispute with Yarra Trams.
Yarra Trams and Metro Rail workers had called off a planned four-hour strike on August 21 in the hope that the companies would present the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) with a better offer. The better offer never came so the tram workers struck for four hours on August 27. This was the first tram strike since 1997.
After a huge amount of political pressure from the Victorian government, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) agreed to postpone its August 21 tram and train strike, and Metro Rail and Yarra Trams agreed to return to the negotiating table.
Had the strike gone ahead it would have been the first such strike in 18 years.
RTBU members were clearly fed up with their respective train and tram companies, with 98% of railway workers and 99.4% of tram workers who returned ballots voting for industrial action.
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.