18 February 2022
This morning we received a letter from the Crown Solicitors Office (the directly employed lawyers of the NSW Government) regarding our upcoming industrial action set to commence on 21 February 2022. The letter contained a threat stating that should five pieces of our notified industrial action continue; the Crown Solicitors would file an application in the Fair Work Commission seeking orders pursuant to s.424 of the Fair Work Act (the same section that was used against us in 2018).
The reasoning for this was stated as follows:
“…the cumulative impact of the Industrial Action on the Sydney Trains network and operations is either an immediate complete stoppage of Sydney Train operations for the period of the Industrial Action; or alternatively that there would be a reduction in services on 21 February 2022 and then possibly from the afternoon services would be unable to operate for the remaining period of the Industrial Action.
Sydney Trains as the operator of the network has over a period of time since the Notice was served undertaken work to consider a number of mitigation measures and changes to its operation to determine potential ways to allow train services to continue to operate for the period of the industrial action.
I am instructed that the action, when undertaken together will directly result in services being completely halted are:
- A limitation on the manner in which work is performed in the form of Train Crew only working to their current Master Roster;
- A ban on the manner in which work is performed in the form of a ban on Train Crew accepting altered working;
- A periodic ban on Overtime (for signallers);
- A ban on the manner in which work is performed in the form of a ban on Train Crew accepting transposition slips; and
- A periodic ban on the issuing of transpositions.”
The NSW Government has demanded that the above actions be removed to allow it to continue to run services over the next fortnight or face legal action in an effort to remove our rights.
At 3.15pm this afternoon, the Minister for Employee Relations, Sydney Trains, and NSW Trains filed this application in the FWC and the case is likely to be heard over the weekend.
Some points on this that are important for members to know and consider:
- The letter was sent via the Crown Solicitors. This is not an attack by Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, this is an attack by the Government led by Dominic Perrottet.
- We are in the middle of bargaining with a long way to go in order to secure our claims. Industrial action is the strongest tool in our arsenal and we can’t lose our right to take it (no matter how unjust it would be to take it away).
- Orders being made could result in the FWC ordering all industrial action to cease for a period of time.
From this list, members can see that this is not an easy situation to navigate. Spare a thought for your delegates who have been tasked with guiding our great union through this process.
We are dealing with a hostile, anti-union Government and their lackies. And we all know that the Government has deep, taxpayer funded pockets which they’re willing to use to screw each and every one of their workers.
As a union, we need remember what our end goal is. Our end goal always has been and always will be to secure the fair enterprise agreement that you deserve, encompassing key claims that will make a tangible difference in members lives, without trading off conditions.
Regardless of what happens over the next few hours and days, one thing we know for certain is that this Government led attack on members’ rights to fight for their working conditions will not be forgiven or forgotten. The Government has our word that, no matter what the outcome, we will hit back harder than ever before, we are in it for the long haul and cannot allow members rights to take protected action to be taken away.
Your EA negotiating committee is endeavouring to keep all workplace delegates updated on the situation. If you have feedback, please provide it to your delegate who will in turn update the EA negotiating committee.
It is acknowledged that this is a frustrating period for everyone and whilst it is easy to get caught up in the understandable anger at the Government, our battle will be won or lost on keeping a level head and planning for the long haul.
This will be a fast-developing situation and we will aim to keep members as up to date as possible as the situation unfolds. Should you have any questions, please contact your local delegate or your organiser.
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