Australian rail workers, bus drivers and commuters support NSW train strike
22 January 2018
In discussions with Socialist Equality Party campaigners, dozens of rail workers, bus drivers and train passengers have expressed strong support for the scheduled January 29 strike of 9,000 Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) train staff.
Rail workers voted for the stoppage as part of a protracted dispute over a new workplace enterprise agreement. Train crews, station staff, cleaners and other workers are opposing the state Liberal-National government’s real wage cuts, increased workloads, and attacks on working conditions.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), which covers the train staff, is working with the government, Unions NSW and the Labor Party opposition to prevent the strike. The unions are holding back room discussions with government ministers aimed at reaching a sell-out agreement. The union officials are terrified that the stoppage could become the focal point of a broader movement of the working class against the assault on jobs, wages and conditions enforced by the unions and successive Labor and Coalition governments.
Workers who spoke to the WSWS over the weekend voiced hostility to the manoeuvres of the union bureaucrats, and outlined the conditions they confront as a result of decades of sackings and cutbacks.
The rail authorities have subjected train workers to an anti-democratic gag, supported by the RTBU, to stop them speaking publicly on the dispute, so they asked that their comments be published anonymously.
At a busy station, one rail worker with seven years’ experience said working conditions were a central issue. “I regularly have less than 12 hours between shifts,” he said. “My family celebrates when I get a day off, let alone…