Rail, Aviation and Transport
Rail, Aviation and Transport
Frustrated rail workers are voting on protected industrial action after six months of fruitless negotiations.
Ballot papers hit letterboxes this week in a crucial poll that could open a new front in the battle for a fair deal at Sydney Trains.
At stake are future pay rises, job security and safety concerns around the uncontrolled spread of contractors.
ETU organiser Ben Lister urged ETU members to vote ‘yes’ to all action options on the ballot paper.
‘We need a very strong yes vote to make management sit up and take notice. We’ve talked and talked but Sydney Trains has not listened. This ballot is our members’ opportunity to put a rocket up them,’ said Ben.
‘I urge all ETU members to complete and return their voting papers without delay. Do it today.’
Management has refused to release productivity data that could underpin the union case for substantial wage rises.
‘What has Sydney Trains got to hide? We know ETU members are massively more productive. Our people are working harder than ever before and new technology has supercharged our efficiency,’ said Ben.
An ETU survey found that reasonable wage rises, job security and no loss of conditions are the key priorities for rail members.
Bargaining is under the auspices of the Combined Rail Unions which include the ETU, RTBU and five other unions.
The incident at Clarendon, near Richmond, forced Sydney Trains to issue an urgent safety action notice on 9 November.
The notice ordered overhead wiring staff and contractors to tighten bolts and perform quality assurance checks in future.
The safety failure is just the latest involving infrastructure work carried out on the Sydney rail network by the private sector Novo Rail Alliance.
In September, Novo Rail was busted using unqualified employees to perform dangerous high-voltage linework.
On that occasion six Novo Rail workers were ordered off the job at North Strathfield by a Sydney Trains Safety Inspector.
The ETU has received other reports of sloppy, potentially dangerous work by contractors including recently at Glenfield.
ETU President and rail delegate Glen Potter called on Sydney Trains to revise arrangements with Novo Rail with the aim of bring infrastructure work back in-house ‘at the first opportunity’.
‘We are thankful that to this point there has not been a serious injury or fatality,’ said Glen. ‘But these are not isolated incidents.
‘We see a clear pattern of risk involving contractors operating at night and self-checking their work. This latest breach confirms the need for urgent action from Sydney Trains.
‘The private sector’s drive to maximise profits is not compatible with the need to prioritise safety for rail workers and the travelling public.’
Novo Rail is a consortium of contractors working in partnership with NSW Government agency Transport for NSW.
The Novo consortium is made up of contracting giants Aurecon, Laing O’Rourke and RCR Infrastructure O’Donnell Griffin.
Your negotiating team received notice from Sydney and NSW Trains management last night that they had made an application to deal with a bargaining dispute in the Fair Work Commission.
Your negotiating team have heard from members loud and clear - you want management to get real on a fair deal. That is the message that will be put to them in the Commission. Management needs to stop wasting time on dubious legal arguments with no end goal and instead put that money into a fair pay rise for you and your workmates who are doing more work with less staff.
Your protected action ballot application and your good faith bargaining orders application are still going ahead. The purpose of both of these applications is to get specific orders from the Commission to fix some of the issues in bargaining. We will keep you updated on the progress of these issues.
It is now more critical than ever for you to make sure that your details on file with management and with the union are the same.
Join us 11.30am Thursday 16 November - Belmore Park, Sydney (near Central Station).
Organiser Ben Lister says: 'After months of negotiation, we have a pretty good offer on the table. We recommend members lock in these gains.'
pay rises of at least 12.5% over four years keep our wages ahead of inflation
four new apprentice positions for electricians and fitters
improved overtime, time-in-lieu and allowance payments
existing conditions including 12% super maintained.
Online voting is open. Don't forget to have your say
The ETU has taken on a leading role in the issue of Asbestos in the C and K sets, the presence of which the ETU will campaign against.
Too many generations of ETU members have been exposed to this deadly substance and we will always take swift and decisive action when it comes to issues of safety, particularly when it involves dangerous asbestos fibres.
Click here to read the combined union notice for the latest update. The ETU will continue to campaign for the removal of asbestos wherever possible.
The ETU has been made aware that asbestos dust has been detected on Sydney Trains C and K set’s being maintained out of Hornsby and Flemington maintenance centres. The ETU takes the threats of asbestos seriously and as such the ETU is instructing members not to work on C and K sets until further notice.
Airborne/friable asbestos presents a significant safety threat and the ETU is taking all necessary steps in order to protect members at this time. If you are requested to work on these trains you should advise your supervisor that you have safety concerns and immediately contact Ben Lister at the union on 0400 264 007.
Sydney Trains have known about this threat for some time and failed to advise employees or their unions. Sydney Trains have also failed to take decisive and immediate action to provide a safe work environment, as a result employees may have been put at risk of exposure to asbestos fibres.
The union has been advised that asbestos dust was detected in the circuit breaker panels in the driver’s compartment however members should not work on any part of C and K sets until further notice.
We will provide a further update to members once the situation has been adequately dealt with by management.
ETU Sydney Trains Organiser
The ETU rail EBA campaign is off to a great start, reports organiser Ben Lister. More than 150 members responded to our online survey. The three top priorities for ETU members are:
No trade-off of existing conditions
Fair pay rises.
For more info, check in with your ETU delegate or see the ETU website.
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