Australia: Union officials desperately trying to prevent NSW rail strike


Australia: Union officials desperately trying to prevent NSW rail strike

Oscar Grenfell

20 January 2018

Officials from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and Unions NSW have been engaged in backroom talks with the state Liberal-National Coalition government and train authorities over the past few days, in a desperate bid to block the scheduled January 29 strike of 9,000 Sydney and New South Wales rail workers.

The RTBU was compelled to call the stoppage after train workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action earlier this month, as part of a dispute over a new enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA). After decades of pro-business restructuring in the railways, enforced by Labor, the Liberal-Nationals and the unions, the government is seeking to push through a deal that paves the way for further cuts to conditions and real wages.

The union called the strike for the day that the school year begins, and announced it a fortnight in advance. This was a calculated attempt to create the conditions to call off the action, on the grounds that it will inconvenience commuters. At the same time, the RTBU has done everything it can to isolate rail workers from other sections of the working class, including bus, ferry and freight train staff, who confront a similar assault on conditions and wages.

Now, the RTBU is openly campaigning to strike a sell-out deal with the government, which would inevitably deepen the assault on jobs, conditions and wages.

RTBU state secretary Alex Classens told the press that meetings yesterday with the Transport Minister Andrew Constance had been “respectful.”

“We worked collaboratively with the Minister to hear what his issues were [and] he listened to what ours were,” Classens said. He stated that Constance was committed to “try…

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