Buses across the CBD, Inner West, Chatswood, Rockdale, and Sydney Olympic Park will cease operations tomorrow from 4-7am and 2:30- 5pm, as a result of industrial action to improve drivers’ pay and working conditions. The strike coincides with continued disruption to NSW Trains tomorrow, with rail workers refusing to operate the foreign-made trains making up 70 per cent of Sydney’s rail fleet due to safety concerns.
Commuters have been warned to plan ahead and consider alternative forms of transport during the six hours of strikes. Trains across the network are expected to run every 30-minutes with the exception of T5 Cumberland and T7 Olympic Park lines which will cease operations entirely.
State Secretary of the RTBU, Alex Claassens, is calling for a pay rise of 0.5 per cent over the current public sector wage cap.
“We’ve now drawn a line in the sand – the delegates have had enough. We are just totally frustrated by this government inaction,” said Claassens.
The Union is also calling for modifications to the new intercity train fleet to ensure the safety of vulnerable members of the public, children, and movement-impaired passengers. These include moving CCTV screens out of the driver’s line of sight and into the guard’s area. The RTBU also states that these screens have blind spots and no audio, limiting their ability to adequately monitor the safety of passengers inside trains and on the platform.
In a press release, the RTBU affirmed the importance of strike action to pressure the NSW Government to modify the fleet.
“We aren’t playing politics; we aren’t being unreasonable; we just don’t believe safety is for sale. The Government had the choice to turn off our industrial action, and they’re choosing not to,” read the release.
Sydney Trains has also neglected the Union’s pleas to protect frontline transport workers from “vile” and “abhorrent” abuse from members of the public while on the job and engaged in victim-blaming, according to a public statement from the RTBU.
“The need to keep members safe is not optional. No matter what is causing the abuse, Sydney Trains have a non-transferable obligation to maintain a safe workplace,” it stated.
Both Premier Dominic Perrottet and NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns today called for an end to the strikes, with Perrottet claiming that “Every time that we have made concessions to fix that [intercity fleet] issue, the union has come out and said ‘No, we’ll move on to something else.’”
“The industrial disruption has meant that it’s causing chaos for thousands of commuters as they attempt to get to and from work,” said Perrottet.
Minns echoed these concerns, arguing that “as a gesture of goodwill, calling off the strike tomorrow would allow people to get to and from work, cooler heads to prevail, get both sides around the negotiating table and get a resolution to what has been an ongoing dispute”.
The Union says it will not stand down until the government concedes to its demands.
“We’ve bargained in good faith, we’ve showed up to meetings, we’ve made our asks clear, we’ve tried to work together on this safety issue since 2016,” they said.
“They’d rather put a price tag on your lives and the safety of the more vulnerable people in our community.”