we will bargain together

24 April 2022

Dear Members

Last week, your bargaining team met with management for 3 days to further progress bargaining. It was a good week with negotiation continuing on significant items and real progress is being made towards reaching an agreement. However, the Government still hasn’t agreed to our claim for a single agreement for Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, and this is significantly slowing down any drafting of the agreement itself. We are pressuring the Government to have an answer on this important claim next week.

In terms of things discussed this week:

1. As safe or safer: almost the entire day on Thursday was dedicated to negotiating our claim which is designed to ensure that any changes made by management make us safer, not less safe. This has been a source of ongoing argument between delegates and management. You may recall two weeks ago Sydney Trains sent a Safety Manager to tell us that they could not possibly do anymore than the legal minimum for safety. This week saw that contention by management fall away and we witnessed some real engagement around this claim.

We are pushing for the clause in the EA to contain commitments to “no blame” investigations, continual improvement of safety measures, early Union and HSR involvement in risk assessments, and accountability for all involved with safety in the workplace. Our delegates, who are all passionate about safety, did not take a backwards step, and we are confident that we can achieve a good outcome for this claim.

2. Rostering Agreements: further meetings were held with delegates representing the following areas this week:
i. Stations
ii. On-boarders
iii. Crew Support Officers
iv. Fleet Presentation
v. Operations Control

An argument arose when management indicated that it did not intend to have the documents (once agreed) protected by the enterprise agreement. Our delegates immediately advised management that this was unacceptable and the arrangements had to be protected by the EA. Management are coming back to us next week with a response to this.

3. Part-Time employment: further negotiation was had in relation to a clause ensuring that part-time employment is used as it is intended to be used. We discussed words around converting part time contracts to full time contracts if full time hours are regularly worked, or increasing the hours of a part time contracts to reflect the hours normally worked. We also raised the issue that part time employees are not paid overtime when they work in excess of their contracted hours, which allows management to “flex up” a part timer’s hours and only pay for ordinary hours. This is just a basic money saving technique that comes at the expense of all workers by saving management from having to pay overtime. Further negotiation on this is expected next week.

4. Disciplinary matters: a heated discussion was had on Friday around the way management deals with discipline in the workplace. Management is proposing a commitment to, and a consistent application of, the “Just Culture” framework as a solution to the problem. However, your delegates were quick to point out the issues with its application, running some real scenarios through the framework from the past few years to establish whether a different decision would have been made. Needless to say, there have been some terrible disciplinary decisions made over the last few years. We all know how important this issue is, and we need to make sure this is right before any final agreement can be reached in this EA.

5. Badges: an agreement was reached on a clause to ensure that members can wear badges supporting their causes of choice at work. This should never have been an issue in the first place, but we’re happy that a clause has been agreed for the EA ensuring that members are protected when wearing their union badges or badges for other important causes.

6. Wearing Shorts: it’s confirmed – shorts will be here to stay once this EA is finalised! Station Staff will have an absolute right to wear shorts, and Infrastructure, Shunters, and Fleet Maintenance will have the right to wear them subject to them not posing an “unacceptable risk” to their safety. A fantastic win!

7. Chairs for Station Staff: Sydney Trains have agreed to allow Station Staff to sit down while performing work, including while at the gate line! The clause to go in the EA is in its final stages of drafting now. Another fantastic win.

8. Critical Incident Leave: further discussion was had this week about expanding the definitions to include direct and indirect exposure to a critical incident, as well as including near miss/hit into the definition. We have not landed on a clause yet, but there is a commitment from management to expand this definition. We are confident that this clause will be finalised in the next couple of weeks.

Next week, your EA delegates are meeting with management again for 3 days from Wednesday to Friday and will be holding briefings with local delegates and members on Tuesday. Keep an eye out for a meeting near you.

If you have anything you want to add or contribute, be sure to reach out to your delegate or organiser, after all, this is all of our EA.

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: 29/04/2022