Australia: Workers reject union-government attempts to cancel NSW rail strike


Australia: Workers reject union-government attempts to cancel NSW rail strike

Oscar Grenfell

24 January 2018

Train workers today overwhelmingly rejected an attempt by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) to cancel a January 29 strike that will involve up to 9,000 drivers, guards and staff across Sydney and the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW).

The RTBU sent out a union text message last night asking members if they wanted to abandon the stoppage based on an enterprise agreement offer from the state Liberal-National government. Workers took to social media last night to denounce the sell-out deal, which was drawn up in backroom negotiations between bureaucrats from the RTBU, other unions, the state-umbrella organisation Unions NSW and the government.

This afternoon the union announced that just 5.9 percent of some 6,100 rail workers who received the text voted to call off the strike. The agreement was a desperate attempt by the unions to suppress widespread opposition among train workers, and to force through the sweeping cuts to wages and conditions demanded by the government, the Labor Party and the corporate elite.

The fact that the RBTU even contrived a ballot indicates its fear that workers would have rebelled if the union had simply called off the stoppage. Workers were supposed to vote on the basis of the prospective agreement yesterday evening, without having even been provided a copy of it. The anti-democratic character of the “vote” was underscored by the fact that numbers of workers this morning had not received a text.

The “summary” of the agreement provided to workers had just three pages. It consisted of a title page, two maps of the Sydney and NSW rail network, and six dot points supposedly outlining elements of the deal. Enterprise…

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