we will bargain together

3 September 2021

Dear Members,

On Monday, we received notification that our application to take Protected Action has been successful. The ability to take protected action means we can now force NSW Trains and Sydney Trains to bargain fairly and properly with us.

Every action was endorsed by over 90% of voters.

This is a huge result and has sent a clear message to management and the NSW Government that members are serious about improving and protecting conditions.

It also proves that RTBU members are ready to do whatever it takes to force management to take this round of bargaining seriously.

As every member understands, we are bargaining through unprecedented times with restrictions being updated and changed by the minute.

But we won’t let that stop us. Here’s the plan:

Now that the PAB has been achieved, we have exactly 30 days to use as many of the actions endorsed by members as possible. If we do them once, we can do them again and at scale, when and if required. We have until 28 September 2021 to take the actions.

If, using the action of wearing union gear as an example, one member at NSW Trains and one member at Sydney Trains notify an action and wear their Union gear to work, this means that at ANY time after that, every member across the network can take that action by wearing union gear. We can also do it as many times as we need.

Delegates, RTBU Officials, and our EA team are working to develop specific and strategic plans to ensure we have every piece of protected action in our arsenal to use at scale.

To make sure members know what’s coming, we have produced a handy advent calendar of some of the actions we will take over the coming weeks.

You will find it right here.

Download the advent calendar here

Print it out, share it around, and make sure every member knows that we are moving to action and that these actions will, if necessary, be the first of many.

Today we are notifying Sydney Trains and NSW Trains of the following actions:

  • On 9 September 2021 – Drivers will be blowing their whistles when the leave each station for 24 hours.
  • On 14 September 2021 – action by Station Staff to perform their duties sitting down
  • On 15 September 2021 – A ban on foreign depot working for 24 hours

Remember these actions are aimed to show Sydney Trains and NSW Trains that we’re serious about our claims and to ensure we have the action to use whatever way we like for the duration of this bargaining.

This is our chance to stand side by side and take the fight to those who are showing us no respect.

What we are fighting for:

One Enterprise Agreement

Despite numerous requests, NSW Trains and Sydney Trains have not had the respect to even meet with your full EA Delegates team and hear your entire log of claims. Last Friday, we held a meeting, and they DID NOT EVEN SHOW UP.

We have a claim for one Enterprise Agreement for members across NSW Trains and Sydney Trains, and NSW Trains and Sydney Trains MUST commit to bargaining together, as we have always done. We will not allow them to divide us, because united we win!

Covid Cleaning on the Network

A central claim for the Enterprise Agreement is retaining the same level of cleanliness on the railways that the public has come to expect during the pandemic. This level of cleaning is to be provided by employees of NSW Trains and Sydney Trains.

Commit to retaining the Deed

Members have clearly told RTBU Officials and Delegates they will fight to retain the Deed despite the clear intent of management to strip this vital protection.


NSW Trains and Sydney Trains have drip-fed their plans for this EA, deliberately providing little detail in what can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to delay bargaining.

We want a complete claim from both parties so we can start to negotiate seriously.

What’s next

  1. As a condition of protected action, we need to notify your employer of the protected action and give them notice. Your Delegates will let you know when to press go on the action.
  2. Share the advent calendar and let your workmates know that we’ve got industrial action planned.

Finally, remember when we move to Protected Action the action we take is just that, protected. Any threats of adverse action from management are unlawful and can result in fines for individuals or organisations.

If anything like this happens, contact your Delegate or the Union office immediately.

We will be in touch soon.


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

Download the PDF Here

Last modified: 07/09/2021