As advised, late Friday the NSW Government filed an application with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) seeking to cancel our industrial action, just like in 2018. We learnt a lot from the 2018 Agreement, and we were ready.
But to make things worse this time, yesterday morning it was revealed that not only did the Government want to cancel our industrial action, but they wanted to terminate bargaining all together and allow the FWC to arbitrate our whole agreement. This would have taken the entire process away from members, and the FWC would decide on our entitlements over the next 3 years, putting every entitlement in the hands of a randomly selected Commissioner.
We’ve always suspected that management don’t want to listen to members and their genuine interests and concerns, they just don’t care. And this move by the Government confirmed that suspicion.
Remember that the Liberal Government has spent the past 9 years stacking the Commission with anti-union, anti-worker, appointments. An agreement imposed on us by FWC is never going to be a good thing. This had to be prevented at any cost.
At the hearing yesterday morning, the NSW Government had no less than 10 lawyers appearing to fight against your right to strike. We estimate the cost to the tax payer of today’s escapade to be close to half a million dollars – money that could have gone to members in the new agreement. This Government’s priorities are clear.
However, your delegates stood strong in the face of what would have been serious consequences if the Government had its way. Our aim going into yesterday was to retain our right to strike, and that’s what we did. We were ready with a strategy to avoid orders by the FWC, and it worked.
To ensure the Government’s case failed and to force them to back down in their effort to cancel your industrial action and terminate bargaining, we were forced to:
- Cancel the overtime ban scheduled for 21 February 2022 until 7 March 2022; and
- Cancel the action of Train Crew only working to Master Roster (this action would have only had any substantial effect for the first week given the reversion to the weekday timetable on 28 February).
Despite the message put out by the Secretary of Transport, the ban on altered working is still going ahead. We agreed (as we always do) that if there is a significant incident involving safety, that Sydney Trains or NSW Trains would call the union and make arrangements to ensure that the incident is dealt with. In this respect, we remind members that the ban applies until you hear from the union, do not listen to management in relation to whether or not a ban applies.
After all, if there is a genuine safety risk on the railway, we will always ensure the safety of all workers and the public.
We still have 7 new industrial actions kicking off at 0001hrs on Monday for a fortnight. And we are still free to notify new actions whenever we see fit.
The NSW Government has used anti-union laws to try and shut down our members right to take industrial action. If the last few days have taught us anything, its that we have a Government that is willing to try anything to screw us over, no matter what the cost to taxpayers.
Sometimes we fight amongst ourselves, but its times like this,that remind us who the real enemy is. We need to, and we will, stand together to beat this heartless and morally bankrupt Government.
Our anger is palpable. The next bargaining meeting is coming up, and if we were management, we wouldn’t want to be in the room that day.
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