we will bargain together

8 July 2021

Dear Members,

Today, NSW Trains continued their attempts to force Delegates from NSW Trains and Sydney Trains to negotiate separately, once again attempting to ignore our claim for a single Enterprise Agreement.

The meeting took place via Teams due to the current health situation. The Combined Rail Unions made it very clear that there is an ongoing expectation that negotiations take place in person, and that bargaining via Teams was impracticable and unacceptable.

Scope: Bargaining Together

Earlier in the week, the Combined Rail Unions wrote to NSW Trains and invited them to attend a face-to-face meeting and hear the combined Log of Claims from all EA Delegates across both NSW Trains and Sydney Trains. Prior to today’s meeting, NSW Trains declined this invitation.

RTBU Officials and Delegates told management that the refusal to meet with Delegates or engage in a discussion around scope made it very difficult to have any meaningful negotiations. Without knowing who the agreement will cover and therefore who we are bargaining for, how can we negotiate on any specific issues?

We also explained that the idea of bargaining together was a claim made in bargaining and therefore NSW Trains should consider any compromise position it may be willing to make. If NSW Trains put an alternative position, not just a blatant refusal to bargain together, we would of course consider it.

One such alternative could be that NSW Trains and Sydney Trains bargain for separate agreements but conduct negotiations with ALL EA Delegates and Management in the same place and at the same time. This would be a similar situation to last time.

NSW Trains have agreed to speak with Sydney Trains and respond by close of business, 15 July 2021.

NSW Trains Link Objectives

To continue discussions in good faith, we invited NSW Trains to put their log of claims for a new agreement. In response, NSW Trains spoke about their objectives for a new agreement. Management indicated they felt the objectives in the NSW agreement were outdated and did not suit the needs of their business.

On this, at least, we could partially agree, the objectives currently enshrined in the Agreement focus on respect, trust, and safety. Three things that management has not honoured with the NSW Trains workforce around the disastrous introduction of the New Intercity Fleet (NIF).

The irony of hearing fluffy language about “our people” when we are still in the Federal Court fighting their attempts to force NSW Trains employees to work with the New Intercity Fleet (NIF) despite their safety concerns would be laughable if it were not so insulting.

Non-Union Bargaining Representatives at the Table

RTBU members have told our Delegates and Officials that NSW Trains management has been actively recruiting non-union bargaining representatives to sit at the table and represent themselves, thereby revoking the status of the union as their bargaining representative.

At present there are 13 non-union representatives who may have been convinced by management to take on this role, not fully appreciating what that meant.

Unfortunately, the reality is that non-union representatives are being used as a tool to create division at the table and in the workplace. The ability to nominate as a non-union bargaining representative is a hangover from the Howard era WorkChoices regime and was deliberately designed to dilute union power.

We are aware that some of the non-union representatives are RTBU members who have given up their right to be represented by the Union, knowingly or unknowingly. If you are one of these representatives, please call the Union office to discuss how we can work together to achieve the best agreement for all members.

Remember, the Union representatives at the bargaining table are elected to represent thousands of rail workers and have created a detailed log of claims based on extensive feedback from across the NSW Trains and Sydney Trains.

Next Steps

On 16 July 2021 (next Friday), our application for a Protected Action Ballot Order will be heard by the Fair Work Commission. We are seeking an order so that members can vote on whether they wish to take action to further our bargaining claims.

Make sure your details are up to date by filling in this form or calling the Union office. It is vital that your details are up to date and that our records match those of your Employer so that you can have your say when our application is successful.

We will be in touch soon, and you can keep up to date on the campaign at:


In Solidarity,


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: 08/07/2021