Sydney’s public transport network to be hit with more industrial action
Sydney’s public transport network is plunged into chaos this week as railway workers plan four days of industrial action over Korea-built trains
- Industrial action this week is likely to lead to massive disruptions in public transport
- The Rail, Tram and Busbond crossed new trains built in Korea
- Train drivers deliberately drive slower and do not drive trains built abroad
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has decided to proceed with its industrial action next week after an emergency meeting of senior NSW ministers failed to convince them.
The union confirmed to AAP on Friday that the planned action, driven by concerns over the safety of a new fleet of trains built in Korea, will begin on Tuesday and last throughout the week.
Treasury Secretary Damien Tudehope and Transportation Secretary David Elliott attended the meeting at 5pm on Friday after a meeting scheduled for the morning was cancelled.
Train drivers will slow down and refuse to use foreign-built trains as part of four days of industrial action announced after the cancellation of Friday’s 9:00 am meeting.
Rail workers went on strike earlier this year (pictured in shifts but when the trains weren’t running, leaving commuters stuck in the city)
Union secretary Alex Claassens said he was told the morning meeting had been canceled around 10 p.m. Thursday while participating in the Vinnies CEO Sleepout, with no explanation given.
Transport for NSW notified the union of a meeting at 5pm on Friday afternoon, giving the government one last chance to halt industrial action beginning Tuesday.
Claassens said the government must agree to modifications to the new intercity fleet trains, the first of which was delivered in 2019 but never put into service.
Treasurer Matt Kean said in May it was costing the government about $30 million a month to stock the trains.
Mr Claassens said he was tipped ahead of the budget that a $300 million line item would solve problems unions say are making the train unsafe, but has since learned the money is part of the existing contract.
Mr Tudehope was asked at a press conference on Thursday whether the money in the budget was earmarked for the changes requested by the union.
“I’ll take it into account,” he told reporters.
Sydneysiders could face a long week of disrupted public transport with more expected train strikes (Photo: Sydney Commuters)
“Negotiations have yet to take place on how we can come to an agreement with the union on the variety of claims they are making.”
Mr Tudehope said the new trains are state-of-the-art and have been approved by the National Rail Safety Regulator’s office.
The strikes will begin on Tuesday in slow motion when motorists do not drive faster than 60 km/h.
On Wednesday, members will be indefinitely banned from going back to the railway operations center and would only work from their current depot on Thursdays, while there will also be an unlimited ban on work related to Sydney Metro.
On Friday, members were said to refuse to run trains built abroad, putting new trains introduced since 2011 out of service.
The disruptions from trains are likely to cause more cars on the road and traffic will become congested especially during rush hour (photo, Sydney during a previous train strike)
Claassens said the network would run at about 30 percent of capacity without those trains, which it has done in recent months when the union took similar action.
“Management has a timetable that they can run, where they know which trains to use and how they will operate,” he said.
“They’ve done it before, they can do it again.”
Mr Claassens said that employees acted in good faith during the long-running negotiations on a new company agreement after the old one expired more than a year ago, but that their patience is running out.
“To be honest, they’re a little frustrated with me and other people who said to them, ‘Let’s give the government a chance to be good at this’ … They’ve had enough time and yet they continue to falter,” said Mr Claassens.