we will bargain together

17 December 2021

Dear Members,

On Monday 20 December, RTBU members are striking for 8 hours from 2000 hrs until 0400 hrs on 21 December.

Our action in September and October brought Sydney Trains and NSW Trains to the table, but we’ve been forced to recommence and escalate action this month to try and force them to properly negotiate in good faith. After months at the table, they are still offering crumbs and expecting us to be grateful.

In an attempt to have members pull their strike planned for Monday, management put an insulting offer of 2.04% back on that table, reneged on their commitment to keeping the Deed that would see it only apply to current employees (not new employees), and a measly $1,000 sign-on bonus in lieu of backpay. If they think we can be bought, they’re clearly still not listening.

We are still fighting for our entire log of claims, particularly

  • anti-privatisation claims,
  • making sure all future changes to current work practices are “as safe or safer”,
  • safety at the platform train interface to ensure the future of Guards and Station Staff on our network
  • a prohibition on driver-only operations; and
  • maintaining current hygiene levels throughout the network with direct hire employees.

We can’t and won’t back down. The strike is going ahead, and we will escalate in future if necessary. We are a strong union when we stand together, and the network-wide solidarity we’ve built will always be stronger than the backbone of management.

Some of our members will continue to work throughout the stoppage as part of our commitment to ensure the passage of freight across the network. Our fight is with Sydney Trains, NSW Trains, and the NSW Government.

These members are taking one for the team, as we are sure they would want to be on the picket lines with every other member. Make sure you show these members some love on the night.

Organisers and delegates will be at a number of worksites on Monday night to support members taking action, and we encourage members at other locations to either attend these sites if possible or walk off collectively and meet together for the first few hours of the stoppage.

Catered pickets will be held at:

  • Central
  • Flemington Maintenance Centre
  • Mortdale Maintenance Centre
  • Auburn Stabling Yard
  • Hornsby Maintenance Centre
  • Campbelltown
  • Blacktown
  • Penrith
  • Katoomba
  • Wollongong
  • Newcastle

Below is an FAQ about the stoppage where we have endeavoured to answer many of the questions we have had so far.

Please contact your local delegate if you have any further questions.

December 20th Stoppage FAQ

  1. Why are we doing an 8-hour Stoppage?

The last network-wide stoppage in September was for 4 hours during the day. Due to Sydney and NSW Trains not budging on many of our key claims, we have been forced to escalate. At the last stoppage, RTBU members endorsed that they would take any action necessary to demand respect from Sydney and NSW Trains. Sydney and NSW Trains have still not given us and our log of claims the respect we deserve. We will keep escalating if necessary.

  1. Can I get in trouble for taking part in the stoppage?

This is protected industrial action. You cannot have any adverse action taken against you for participating. Contact your local delegate or the RTBU office immediately if anything dodgy occurs.

Examples of adverse action include:

  • Standing you down without reason
  • Locking you out of the workplace after the stoppage
  • Removing you from Higher Grade Duties
  • Cutting your hours/cancelling future overtime shifts
  • Changing your roster without notice
  • Any infringement on workplace rights (refusal to let you access leave entitlements, not allowing you to refuse additional hours)

Being on strike counts as out-of-hours conduct, and certain out-of-hours conduct can still get you in trouble at work even if you are taking protected industrial action, such as criminal acts and violence.

  1. What should I do if my manager targets me?

Contact your local delegate or the RTBU office immediately. When RTBU delegates were unfairly targeted during the last round of industrial action, the entire union was behind them. We stood firm and they were reinstated. Management backed down. We will all stand together and in solidarity with any RTBU member and won’t allow any bullying or intimidation tactics from management.

  1. Do I need to let my employer know I’m taking part in the stoppage?

No. The RTBU office have already notified your employer of the stoppage.

  1. Why are some members working during the stoppage?

A very small group of members will be working during the stoppage to ensure that freight services are able to safely continue. Our fight is with Sydney and NSW Trains, not the freight companies. Absolutely no work pertaining to Sydney/NSW Trains operations will be completed by members during the stoppage.

  1. What happens if I’m rostered to start between 2000 and 0400?

Sign on to start work at 0400 when the stoppage ends. It is up to you if you would rather participate in the stoppage at home or if you want to go in to gather as a group with your workmates and fellow members.

  1. What happens if my shift ends during the stoppage?

E.g. you are rostered from 1300-2100. Stop work at 2000. You will not be paid for the hours of your shift that you take part in the stoppage.

  1. What COVID-safe measures should we take?

Where possible, try to gather outside. Wear masks where social distancing is not possible and ensure hand hygiene is upheld. Use the QR check-ins available and follow NSW Government COVID-19 Guidelines.

  1. Can they stand me down for the whole shift? (what happens with payment?)

In some instances, yes. However, as long as you present to work and are willing and able to work for the rest of your shift, you should be paid for the hours you are rostered and complete once the stoppage ends. This is the case even if there is no work to be done and you have not been directed to stand down. For example, if you finish work at 0600 you should present to work at 0400 and be paid the 2 hours you worked unless directed otherwise.

  1. What if the public turn on us for taking this stoppage?

It is not union members’ responsibility to keep the public happy. Transport/Sydney Trains/NSW Trains have had WEEKS of notice about this stoppage and have chosen not to do anything to lessen the impact on passengers. That’s on them, not us. Many of the key claims we are fighting for will positively impact the community as well as RTBU members. We are fighting for everyone while the Employers try to pass the buck and blame workers. We can’t let Sydney/NSW Trains guilt RTBU members for the result of their refusal to negotiate fairly. All they have to do to make the pain stop is agree to our log of claims.

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: 12/01/2022