To listen the article select text   Click to listen highlighted text! To listen the article select text

Train negotiations blow up over operation of new fleet

In a severe escalation of tensions between the powerful Rail, Tram, Bus Union (RTBU) and the NSW Government, Treasurer Matt Kean and Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope said the government wouldn’t bow to union demands to make safety alterations to the trains. “We have a $2 billion train fleet sitting at Mariyung ready to be rolled out and service the people of this state,” Mr Tudehope said.“It has been sitting there since that time because of concerns raised by the union and reconfiguration of a $2 billion train which we say is a state-of-the art train.“It would be my recommendation to the government that they cannot accede to the request to alter that train.”Treasurer Matt Kean said demands to alter the trains, which have been deemed safe by the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator, as “outrageous”.“Today we’re drawing a line in the sand against the outrageous demands of the unions to deprive the NSW travelling public of the newest safest and best trains that we have in the state,” he said. “The new inner city flight trains $2 billion worth of train rolling stock is currently sitting in storage because of the outrageous demands of the union movement.” The NIF (New Intercity Fleet) was meant to be on the tracks in October 2021, but the unions have refused to operate the fleet over safety concerns, with the trains remaining in storage.These safety concerns included plans to use CCTV rather than guards to conduct visual checks of platforms, while emergency buttons on trains would go to call centres rather than a guard. Transport Minister David Elliott wasn’t present at the announcement despite playing a leading role in negotiations, with Mr Tudehope saying he was “preparing for Question Time”.Mr Elliott later told Question Time on Thursday afternoon he wouldn’t be providing “a running commentary” on the negotiations when questioned over the breakdown.Mr Elliott told the Telegraph on Wednesday that he was confident industrial action would be avoided with negotiations so far conducted in “good faith”.RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claasens indicated the blowup by the government could set negotiations back to square one, while refusing to rule out industrial action.He said the union’s key concern was over CCTV replacing guards, saying “we’re going to make sure we don’t jeopardise the safety of the public on an unsafe train.”He added the government’s refusal to change could “potentially” set their six weeks of negotiation back to square one.He said after positive negotiations so far, “We go in (today) and some random minister (Mr Tudehope) blows it all out of the water.”He also refused to rule out further industrial action, but said he would advise union members to wait and see what other cabinet members said.“I’m not going to rule anything in or out. Ultimately those decisions will be made by the members. We’ll wait and see what the rest of the cabinet members decide,” he said.“They’re (Ministers Kean and Tudehope) trying to play games and we’re not going to play.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Click to listen highlighted text!