8 May 2022
Last week was the final week of the 6-week intensive bargaining period. Your EA delegates met with management 4 times last week from Tuesday to Friday. It was a big week kicked off by an address from the Secretary of Transport who attempted to explain the Executive Remuneration (ERC) process that our claims have to progress through to get approval from Government.
Of significant concern was the possibility that despite Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, Transport for NSW, AND the Transport Minister all agreeing to a claim being in the new enterprise agreement, the Government’s Cabinet process still may reject it. Thankfully some of our claims have already been through this process, but a significant amount still haven’t been, and the other unions in the CRU are yet to have any of their claims go through this process.
Your delegates grilled the Transport Secretary on who was to be held accountable if agreed items are rejected by the Cabinet process. Unsatisfactorily, there seems to be no
accountability in this process. It was put to the Secretary in no uncertain terms that if our
claims were to be rejected by the Government process, our members would be taking further industrial action and that this action would be with a force and scale they’ve not yet seen from us.
In terms of our claims, the following were discussed:
1. One Agreement – We discussed what was needed to turn the existing two
agreements into a single enterprise agreement covering by Sydney Trains and NSW
Trains. Section 1 will be consistent for all employees covered by the agreement, and
further discussion is required in terms of sections 2, 3, 4, and 5, and NSW Trains
2. The Redundancy and Redeployment Deed – management are proposing
essentially the same terms for the Deed for the life of this agreement. However, we
are still fighting to have the deed included in the agreement so it’s protected. We are
yet to receive an answer on whether government will agree to this.
3. TOMA – we put forward a position that there needs to be more accountability on
management to find alternative roles for injured workers – it should not be on the
worker to get on a computer to find other jobs themselves. The other issue discussed
was that workers should have access to absolutely every piece of evidence
management rely on when putting them through a TOMA process. Finally,
management have agreed to change the “T” for Termination to an “R” for Retirement.
4. Rail Emergency Response Unit Claims – RERU delegates pushed their claims on
increasing their pay rate to RC6, introducing Team Leader roles, and ensuring a 4×4
roster. Management rejected the claim to go to RC6, but agreed to establishing 4
new RC6 Team Leader positions, and agreed to the 4×4 roster claim.
5. Rostering Agreements – working groups continue to occur to establish rostering
agreements for Stations, On-Boarders, Operational Salaried Staff, Fleet, and Signalling. We had a debate about how these agreements were going to be including in the agreement, with management wanting the ability to change them through consultation, but delegates are pushing for mutual agreement. We will continue to
fight this point to ensure rostering arrangements are protected by the EA.
6. Overtime Cap for RC Grades – we continued to push for the overtime cap to be
lifted from its current level to ensure fairness in overtime payments. Management
have now agreed to raise the overtime cap from RC6C to RC6E.
7. Site Rates and Conversion to Permanent for Contractors – delegates argued
passionately and at length about the ongoing exploitation of contractors by Sydney
Trains and NSW Trains. The solution proposed in our claims is that contractors should be on the same conditions as permanent employees, and they should have a right to become permanent employees after 3 months onsite as a contractor. Management maintained their refusal to resolve this issue, which is extremely disappointing. However, the following commitment from the Transport Secretary in relation to Cleaners from March still stands:
Where supplementary labour is used in Sydney Trains with respect to station and fleet cleaning activities that have permanent funding, on a regular basis for a period of longer than 3 months, an equivalent number of full-time equivalent positions will be created with the intention of this work being undertaken by Sydney Trains staff.
8. Special Leave for Volunteer Emergency Services – this week management agreed to provide leave to employees who engage in voluntary work in emergency services. This leave will be paid at average pay from the previous 6 months.
9. Part-time employment – unfortunately management refused to resolve the issue that exists with the continued exploitation of part-time workers by withholding overtime from them until they work over 38 hours in a week. Our delegates raised that there is already wage theft occurring in this space, however management still did not budge. It’s now on us to resolve the underpayments through other mechanisms.
10. Changing Infrastructure Workers’ medicals from Cat 1 to Cat 2 – management advised that it has begun the process of looking at potentially changing this for Major Works and Network Maintenance.
11. Graffiti, Hazardous, and Respirator Allowance – passionate debate occurred around whether Cleaners should be compensated for tasks that involve the wearing of respirators, or the cleaning of particularly awful substances on trains. After an initial denial of the claim, some very passionate speeches by Cleaning Delegates with support from other Divisions, management changed their position and have agreed to our claims and are working through the details on how to implement these allowances.
12. Meal allowance for every 4 hours for Infrastructure Workers – management have
accepted our claim for a meal allowance for every 4 hours in what is a fantastic win for our Infrastructure Division.
13. Lift up and lay back for Crew – Sydney Trains refused our claim for lift up and lay back for training. Management stated that they can fix this issue through other means. Our delegates said that this was all well and good but told management to put their “money where their mouth is” and commit to payment if they can’t fix the issue. NSW Trains however are considering introducing lift up and lay back for Drivers and Guards. We’ll await an answer from them on that.
14. Work Group Leaders and Team Leaders Claim – management are proposing a mechanism to resolve this issue quickly at the start of the agreement. We are yet to see the mechanism, but if it’s not watertight, delegates will be pushing for an immediate change to both positions in the classification structure.
15. Meal Allowance in addition to all up rate in section 2 – management agreed to provide meal allowances to workers in section 2 in addition to the all up rate, resolving an issue that arose in last agreement with management refusing the allowance.
16. Harmonising milage payments for Intercity and Regional Drivers – management of NSW Trains have agreed to put our claim to the Cabinet process for deliberation, which is a very welcome move by them.
Transport for NSW is now putting our claims to Cabinet for approval to include in the
agreement. It’s important that we put as much pressure as we can on the Politicians to
accept what Transport for NSW is putting forward. As we’ve seen throughout this bargaining process, the NSW Government on its own can’t be trusted to do right by workers but together we can force their hand.
We need to make it extremely clear to these politicians that the only option here is to accept the claims we’ve fought so hard for, or there will be hell to pay.
Please go to the below links where the CRU have set up a contact your MP tool and send a letter to your MP. Please circulate these links as wide and far as possible and get all your friends, family, and fellow members to also sign the letters.
Email your MP – calling on the NSW Government to ensure safety, conditions and job security on the train system
Call Your MP – Demand Safety, Conditions and Job Security for Rail Workers
Meanwhile, we continue to bargain. Next week, working groups will meet as required and we are back at the bargaining table on Thursday. We are still negotiating on big ticket claims such as discipline, just culture, safety claims, the New Intercity Fleet, and the New Regional Fleet- but we are making steady progress.
If you have any questions about the process, make sure you speak to your delegate or
organiser. EA Delegates will be out in workplaces again this week, so please keep an eye
out for them.
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