30 April 2022
This week we met Sydney and NSW Trains management for a further two bargaining meetings. The week was a bit of a mixed bag, with management returning to an obstinate stance on a number of important issues to members. Still, progress was made on some claims, moving us incrementally closer to an agreement.
Discussed this week was:
1. Breastfeeding clause – management agreed this week to a clause providing the right to dedicated breaks for breastfeeding and the provision of facilities to allow this to occur.
2. Public Crisis Meetings – management have agreed to a clause allowing unions to call urgent workplace meetings to discuss matters relating to any public crisis.
3. Significant Person definition – our claim is pushing for the inclusion of “significant person” into the Carers Leave and Bereavement Leave clauses in the EA, allowing these types of leave for situations involving close personal relationships outside of family. Management came back to us with a proposal to include “Aboriginal Kinship” into the definition which is a good start, but still does not meet our claim.
4. No medical certificate for Carers leave – management have conceded to allow other types of evidence, like a stat dec, to prove that you were looking after another person, removing the requirement for members to get a medical certificate from the loved one they are looking after.
5. Overtime cap for RC Grades – we revisited the overtime cap for RC grades this week. Management again tried to hide behind the historical reasons for the cap being in place, but this week agreed to look at the application of the cap for the list of classifications that this affects.
6. Meal allowance for Infrastructure – we continued our push for Infrastructure Workers to be paid meal allowances in the same way as those 4.2 and above, i.e. one meal allowance payable every 4 hours away from the depot. Sydney Trains is further considering this issue and we will revisit this issue (again) next week. We also spoke about introducing automatic progression in classifications if training is not provided. Management so far have refused this claim.
7. Claims for Station Staff – this week we discussed various claims for station staff that remain outstanding:
a. Proper use of part time employment, including overtime for work over contracted hours.
b. Introducing a transfer register for NSW Trains to match the one in place at Sydney Trains.
c. CCTV use including the times it is allowed to be used as well as preventing improper use by management.
d. Meal Breaks – management this week agreed to include a clause written into the EA for station staff to take meal breaks. Management is coming back to us with a proposed clause next week.
e. We are close to finalising a clause to go into the EA to create an absolute right to chairs for station staff.
8. Claims for Train Crew – we continued negotiations on outstanding claims for train crew:
a. Lift up and lay back to be paid when roster changes are required to facilitate training – this claim was rejected by management who insisted they could fix the timing of training so this isn’t an issue. Our delegates didn’t buy that and insisted lift up and lay back is needed for this.
b. Lift up and lay back changes or introduction for Intercity Train Crew. This claim was also rejected out of hand by management.
c. Introducing timeframes for transfers. Management are considering this claim and will come back to us next week.
d. Additional 10 minutes at sign on. This claim had previously been rejected out of hand, but this week we saw a concession by management that they would workshop this issue with delegates.
e. Payment for altered/amended working as per the diagram book. Management are investigating this claim but at this stage refuse to admit that it’s a problem.
f. Harmonising milage for Regional and Intercity Drivers. Our delegates proposed a new table for milage to NSW Trains who are considering it and coming back to us.
9. The Redundancy and Redeployment Deed – management have provided a draft for a replacement deed. The drafting looks okay to us, but there are still live questions about why the provisions of the deed can’t be added into the EA, protecting them from attack. The excuse given by management is that the “Wages Policy” doesn’t allow them to do it, but on Thursday the CRU called this out and have asked specifics about why the terms of the deed shouldn’t be included in the EA.
10. Termination on Medical Advice – there was a brief discussion about this controversial policy. We are pushing to make it fairer and hold management and medical officers accountable in this process by placing obligations to provide medical information and redeployment options as soon as they become available.
11. Graffiti allowance – a heated discussion took place around when our cleaners should be entitled to an additional 73c per hour. This discussion including the respirator allowance that was cruelly taken off cleaners recently. We are fighting to have the graffiti allowance included in the EA and the respirator allowance returned to cleaners.
12. Payment for self reporting medical problems – a good discussion was had about how employees should be paid when they self report potential medical issues to management. We are still working on the clause, but this week management agreed that to encourage a positive reporting culture, it is only fair that employees be paid their average earnings if they self report a potential medical issue. This would apply to category 1 and 2 workers, and we are pushing to include category 3 workers as well.
13. Shorts Independent Risk Assessment – there was a discussion around who would do the assessment of shorts for Fleet Presentation, Shunters, and Infrastructure Workers. We put that there needs to be a union appointed safety expert involved to oversee the process, and management have agreed.
As can be seen from the above, it was an extremely busy week with negotiation occurring on many different claims. There have been 4 days booked for bargaining next week, with EA delegates released for an additional day to speak to members in the workplace. Please get in touch if you would like someone to come to your site or depot.
Finally, late on Friday night we received a letter from the Secretary of Transport for NSW informing us that he has given Sydney Trains and NSW Trains authority to begin drafting a single agreement to apply to both entities! This is a claim we’ve been pushing from the beginning and it’s testament to the commitment of your EA delegates that after all this time, they have finally committed to this important claim.
Congratulations to all members who have taken action over the past 9 months to achieve this outcome!
Remember this is your EA, so if your workplace has anything you think needs to be addressed at the bargaining table, let your local delegate know and they will pass the information onto the EA delegates.
Issued & authorised by Alex Claassens, Secretary, Rail, Tram and Bus Union – NSW Branch
Level 4, 321 Pitt Street,
Sydney NSW 2000
Tel: (02) 92642511
Fax: (02) 92611342