we will bargain together

14 July 2022

Dear members,

Today we were back in the bargaining room following the NSW Government’s ill-fated attempt last week to suspend and/or terminate our industrial action.

The meeting kicked off with questions being asked of senior management on what they knew about this attempt to strip members of their fundamental human right to take industrial action and to bargain for pay and conditions. Management stated that all they were seeking was “relief” from the bans that were put in place by the RTBU. Don’t be fooled, the NSW Government wasn’t only trying to stop us taking action, it was trying to terminate the bargaining process and put our fate in the hands of the Fair Work Commission.

The blame for the bungled Commission case lies squarely at the feet of the Minister for Employee Relations’ office, who was apparently behind this immoral tactic.
Delegates also raised issue with the rhetoric being used by Management and Government blaming the network’s problems on industrial action that had resulted in many instances of verbal and physical abuse against members. Management agreed that any violence against members was not on, but it was put squarely to them that blaming us for their problems was directly causing it. We hope this doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

The rest of the meeting involved further negotiation around:

1. Wage Increases – we began the actual negotiations this morning with a discussion on the CRU’s increased wage claim. The claim is as follows:

From 1 May 2021 (backpay) – 3.5%
From 1 May 2022 – 3.5%
From 1 May 2023 – 3.5%

Agreement to expire on 1 May 2024.

None of the above figures include super, which is a lawfully mandated increase separate to the enterprise agreement.

Our claim is that the second and third increases should be complimented by the potential of up to 4% extra if inflation is higher than the 3.5% pay increase. So, for example, the 1 May 2022 pay increase will be increased to 5.1%. If inflation continues to rise, the pay increase for 1 May 2023 could be as high as 7.5%.

We have maintained our claim for a pandemic productivity payment of $3,185 to be paid on the approval of the agreement.

Management have said they will get back to us on our claim by Monday.

2. Disciplinary matters clause – management have accepted the need to provide employees with a reason for suspension at the time it occurs. Further, they have agreed to only suspend workers when absolutely necessary, and that there is a presumption that members will stay in the workplace during investigations unless there is a specific risk meaning that they need to be removed.

3. Allowances for Cleaning Duties – we continued to push for an all up allowance for any member performing cleaning duties of $2.50 per hour. This would encompass the new hazardous waste allowance, the graffiti allowance, and the respirator allowance. Unfortunately, we saw no movement on this claim, and it seems we will have to escalate our industrial action to achieve movement here.

4. Reducing contractors – the discussion today focussed on cleaning contractors. This is a claim of key importance to ensure that jobs across the railway are fairly paid and treated. Unfortunately, when the question was put to NSW Trains asking who would be tasked with cleaning the New Intercity Fleet and the New Regional Fleet, we were met with obfuscation and avoidance. Our cleaning delegates vented their frustration at this lack of sincerity by Management.

5. Infrastructure ClaimsProtection Officers and Work Group Leader/Team Leader – although we are getting closer to resolving these claims to the satisfaction of delegates, there is still work to be done. We continue to push for additional pay for performing protection officer work, and a commitment to bringing the positions back in house.

6. One Agreement Drafting – finally, we put to Management that it was time to get the actual draft agreement after months of dispute around the scope of the agreement. We are hopeful that your delegates will have a document to work through line by line in the coming weeks to bring us close to reaching an agreement.

We will continue to update members as bargaining continues. If you wish to talk to someone about the status of bargaining or any specific claims, please do not hesitate to speak to your delegate or organiser.

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: 15/07/2022