we will bargain together

Dear Members

This week on Tuesday and Wednesday, we continued negotiations for a new enterprise agreement. It was a mixed week, with some gains but a lot of fighting over important areas such as safety standards and disciplinary matters.

Our claim for “As Safe, or Safer”

An important claim in our log of claims is to ensure that any changes that are made by Sydney Trains or NSW Trains are as safe, or safer, than the technology, system, or process that is currently in place.

So far, we have been met with blanket refusal to accept the claim. Recently we were advised that Sydney Trains were unable to accept the claim due to an existing standard, which is safe “so far as is reasonably practicable”, being the standard imposed by the Regulators. This is obviously nonsense, and Sydney and NSW Trains should be going above and beyond to ensure that members are safe at work.

We are told that the Rail Agencies will have a position on this item ready for us next week, and we hope that they will come to the party on this important issue.

Disciplinary matters

Much of Wednesday was spent discussing what we describe as the “misuse” of disciplinary measures against members. The Rail Agencies have agreed to reinvigorate the “Just Culture” framework and much discussion was had around ensuring that operational incidents do not progress down the disciplinary path. In fact, our focus in negotiating around what “Just Culture” will look like is to ensure that as many incidents (operational or otherwise) as possible stay out of the disciplinary process.

This negotiation will flow through to next week. It is important that we get this right as the trauma that some members are put through unjustly when a rogue manager decides to embark on discipline simply needs to stop.

Rostering Arrangement Negotiations

This morning, your Stations, Rail Operations Centre, and Crew Support Officer representatives met with management to begin discussions around potential Rostering Arrangements to be enshrined in the new enterprise agreement. We are striving towards these documents setting in stone how members in these areas are rostered to avoid the silly games played by management in the recent past.

If you have any input into what you think is needed in these documents be sure to reach out to your delegate or organiser so it can be represented at the bargaining table.

Other areas of discussion

We also touched on the following areas as issues that need to be agreed to:

  • Proper utilisation of part-time employment – a major problem on Stations in Sydney and NSW Trains is the improper utilisation of part time employment. We are arguing that part time employees should be able to convert their contracts to properly reflect the hours they actually do. Alternatively, any hours worked above contracted hours should be paid for as overtime.
  • Payment in the event of failed health assessments – you may remember that Sydney Trains had a claim to strip members of master roster payments should they fail a medical or health assessment. This week Sydney Trains agreed to drop this claim and have agreed to our claim for this time to be paid at the higher rate of average pay.
  • Lifting the Overtime cap for RC Grades – we argued this week that it was unfair that overtime for higher RC grades should be artificially capped at a lower rate. Sydney Trains will respond to this claim next week.
  • ADOs and Public holidays accruals to increase to 12 days per year – we forcefully put this point again as the current limit on accrual is too low, particular given that leave is currently refused on a frequent basis.
  • Line Information Control (LIC) operator classification to be raised to Signaller Grade 3 rate – given the significant change to the duties of LIC operators, we drove home the claim that these members should be paid at the higher Grade 3 rate.
  • Crib breaks to be introduced for Intercity Guards – unfortunately this was met with an obstinate response by NSW Trains. It was acknowledged that Intercity Guards need a break, but an attitude of “it’s too hard” was adopted by NSW Trains Management. We will be escalating this matter should NSW Trains continue to hold out.
  • Work Group Leader/Team Leader Claim – delegates from the Infrastructure Division drove home the importance of this claim to members in order to professionalise and properly remunerate these roles.

As advised last week, this bargaining period has been different to those that came before. Management are being held to account by Transport for NSW and the Transport Minister.

There seems to be a desire to actually reach an agreement with members. We are hopeful that in May an agreement will be within reach, however we must remember that pay will likely require us to continue our fight as the Government’s wage cap remains at 2.5%.

In order to continue the progress we’ve made over the past 3 weeks, we’ve agreed to an additional days bargaining each week between now and 29 April 2022 to attempt to lock in as many entitlements and conditions as we can.

Remember, this is all of our EA, so if you have anything you think needs to be argued at the negotiating table, be sure to let your delegate or organiser know!

In Unity


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

Last modified: 14/04/2022