Letter to SA Environment Minister David Speirs MP

Last weekend South Australian Minister for the Environment David Spears MP falsely claimed that 92 per cent of South Australian train and tram drivers support the privatisation process.  The RTBU has written to him seeking a retraction and an apology.  Here is the letter that we sent to Mr Speirs, which was also copied to SA Premier Steven Marshall MP.


Dear Mr Speirs

The RTBU represents workers on South Australia’s passenger tram and tram networks.

Our members were bemused, and even angered, by comments you made on ABC television on Sunday 5 July.

The ABC was reporting on the first day of private operation of Adelaide’s tram network. As you would be aware, our members have campaigned against the privatisation of the tram services, and are continuing to campaign against the privatisation of passenger rail services.

Nevertheless, you stated that:

“We’re standing by our outsourcing of the train and tram contracts. The fact is that during the recent Enterprise Bargaining agreement 92 per cent of drivers working on our trains and trams voted in favour of this process.”

I understand that you are not the Minister responsible for the Transport portfolio, but I am concerned about your lack of understanding of the nature of Enterprise Agreements. Let’s be clear:

the recent Enterprise Agreement for tram drivers was not a referendum on the privatisation process.

The Enterprise Agreement relates to the pay and employment conditions of drivers, and included a safeguard to protect tram driver jobs for three years. I can assure you that if workers had been asked to vote on whether they support the privatisation process, the outcome would have been an overwhelming “no” vote.

You should also note that train workers are due to vote on a new Enterpise Agreement in the coming months.

On behalf of our members, I request that issue a statement withdrawing the assertion that you made on ABC News, and apologising to tram and train workers for falsely claiming they support the privatisation process.

Yours sincerely,

Darren Phillips