Chester leaves ARTC workers in limbo

The futures of rail workers in the Hunter and across regional Australia are in limbo after Minister for Transport Darren Chester today refused to rule out privatising ARTC.

RTBU_Train_graphic.jpgMr Chester today issued a statement attacking the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) for what he called “a disgraceful attempt to scare hard working rail track workers into thinking that their jobs are under threat.”

Mr Chester’s statement, however, ran for ten paragraphs without answering the key question of whether the Government would sell or break up ARTC.  Mr Chester even conceded the Federal Government was about to commence “market testing for private sector involvement” in ARTC work.

Down this path before

RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva today said Hunter transport workers knew exactly what it meant when the Liberals and Nationals said they were conducting “market testing.”

“We’ve been done this path before with Mike Baird and the privatisation of Newcastle’s buses and ferries.  When they say they’re testing the market, it really means that a deal’s in the bag.

“The Federal Government has brought in Macquarie Bank to do the groundwork on the sale, it has ‘fattened the goose’ with an equity investment, and now it’s sounding out potential private sector partners.

“If workers had concerns that ARTC was about to be privatised, Darren Chester has just given those concerns greater weight.

“This is exactly why unions are seeking greater protections for workers whose jobs may be on the line if the business is sold or broken up.”

ARTC proposal is a stitch-up

Mr Nanva said ARTC train control and administration workers were seeking to get their existing sick leave conditions and better redundancy and redeployment provisions written into a new Enterprise Agreement.

“It’s increasingly clear that ARTC’s proposed agreement is a stitch-up.  The Federal Government does not want to protect the conditions of ARTC workers because it’s worried about any effects this will have on the sale value of the business.

“It’s easy for the Nationals to attack country workers and unions, but if they had any courage whatsoever they would stand up to the Liberals and the big business interests that run the Federal Government.”