11 June 2022

Dear Members,

This week’s bargaining meeting consisted of drafting discussions on a number of claims and clauses including:
Cleaning Claims – Hazardous waste allowance, graffiti allowance, and respirator allowance. We put the position that a dollar amount should be placed on these allowances, and they should be included in the base rate.

Natural Disaster Leave – we argued that if an employee cannot attend work due to a natural disaster, they should be paid at base rate or at rostered earning.

The inclusion of rostering arrangements into the agreement – management wants the right to change by consultation the new rostering agreements your delegates have worked tirelessly on over for the past few months, while we are arguing that change should only occur through mutual agreement. NOTE: this does not include the DRAWA, GRAWA, or Section 5 rostering conditions – these are already locked in as conditions of employment.

Part Time Conversion to Full Time – this is part of an ongoing argument that management exploit part-time workers by not paying them overtime when they work over their contracted hours, instead being able to work them at ordinary hours until they get to 38 hours. This is wrong and should be changed.

Sydney Trains Peak Charter – the CRU is arguing that the Peak Consultative Committee needs to be a proper problem solving body at the highest levels with powers to hold everyone to account.
Importantly, following this week’s developments regarding the failure of management to present our claims to the Expenditure Review Committee (ERC) and the Employee Relations Minster, Damien Tudehope’s withdrawal of support for our claims on ‘one agreement’ and safety modifications to the NIF, the meeting was dominated by questions from delegates demanding clarity and an explanation on the ERC process which appears to have been used as a smokescreen by management to avoid providing answers on our claims.

5In the meeting, RTBU EA delegates expressed their disappointment and frustration with this process. We have been willing to participate in good faith with a view that this short intensive period of negotiations would be productive. However, despite making significant progress towards finalising an enterprise agreement with 84 of the CRUs claims agreed to, just as we approach the finish line, faceless politicians in Macquarie Street have continue to butt in and try to spoil it. Our goodwill is running thin, and the reprieve from industrial action since March has been taken for granted by the Government.
The lurching from one position to another (it was agreed, then it wasn’t, then it was again, then it wasn’t), particularly on our NIF and

One Agreement claims after 14 months of negotiations with Sydney Trains and NSW Trains is not just reprehensible conduct from an employer, but is a clear breach of the good faith bargaining requirements in the Fair Work Act.

We are now concerned that there is no intention from the NSW Government’s Ministers to genuinely try and conclude an agreement.

In an attempt to clarify the ERC process, the CRU requested the following from management:
Which claims are subject to ERC approval?
What is in the ERC package?
Who makes decisions and who sits on the committee?
What, if any, are the alternative proposals to full acceptance of our claims that Trains put to the ERC? Do these include:
– Putting an EA out to vote without informing the CRU;
– Termination of our EA; or
– Termination of Protected Industrial Action
Sydney Trains and NSW Trains management either avoided all the above questions or didn’t know the answer themselves. Accordingly, on Friday your EA delegates decisively decided to end the pause on new industrial action.
New action for the Workshops Division and Infrastructure Division was notified on Thursday night and will commence shortly. There will continue to be an escalation of industrial action across all Divisions in the coming weeks.
The RTBU will continue to hold Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and the Perrottet Government to account and fight for transparency and fairness. We will continue to update members as soon as more information comes to light.
Update on Wages Cap
Echoing the call of other public sector unions who have taken to the streets over the past few months, the RTBU calls on the NSW Government to commit to address the issue of low wage growth, community safety, staffing shortages, and increasing workloads. We will fight alongside the nurses, teachers, public servants, paramedics, and health workers to abolish the wages cap and lift wages to keep up with the cost of living.

The new 3% wage cap announced at the start of last week is a slap in the face to all rail workers who kept the state running throughout bushfires, floods and a global pandemic. Given that inflation is running at 5.1%, the new wages cap would result in a real wage cut for communities already doing it tough. It is a clear sign that this government is completely out of touch with issues facing their own workforce. The RTBU will not stop fighting for a fair and just wages offer that maintains the real value of our wages.

Contrast the refusal to grant rail workers a real pay rise with the $30 million it is costing the Government every single week to keep the NIF in storage. Talk about priorities!

The fight for a fair wage increase is coming, and it’s coming soon. We will update members accordingly when the big fight over wages kicks off. It will be the big one.
In Solidarity,
RTBU NSW

Last modified: 17/06/2022