‘Rolling’ train strikes to hit NSW network



A protracted industrial battle between the railway union and the government of NSW is set to flare up next week, with several strikes on the state’s rail network this month.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is locked in a stalemate with the government over a new venture agreement and a Korean-made Intercity train fleet, with the union pushing for a deal that guarantees solutions to security problems.

The government, which claims the fleet is safe, has promised to spend $264 million to change the stock, but the union wants written confirmation.

The RTBU said further protected industrial action would take place after the government failed to decouple its pledge to resolve the fleet’s problems from railway workers’ wages and conditions.

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RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens said the sporadic strikes would take place in one area at a time, meaning trains could continue to run in most areas.

A “protected action calendar” released by the RTBU shows four planned strikes in August, each hitting a different part of the network.

The first strike on August 10 will affect train services in the south of Sydney, as well as Bondi Junction.

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Other strikes will take place on August 17, 23 and 25.

In addition, transport officials will refuse to impose fines and gates at train stations will remain open this month as part of the union action.

On several dates in August, cleaners will stop using vacuum cleaners or scrubbers, and on some days there will be a ban on foreign-made trains.

“We have done everything by the book to implement these essential security changes, but the government is refusing to listen,” Claassens said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is our only way to ensure that the security changes that need to be made are actually implemented,” he said.

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“We’ve had a lot of verbal commitments before, so this time we need to put it in a binding document.”

The escalation of the action comes after the union hit the network with a four-hour strike last week that ended at 4 a.m. on Thursday.

Last month, the government tried to end the union action, but the case against the union was dismissed by the Fair Work Commission.

Transport Secretary David Elliott has been approached for comment.



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