RTBU National Council 2017: Union and Proud

This year’s RTBU National Council saw 80 elected Delegates meet for 2 ½ days to discuss the big issues facing rail, tram and bus workers across Australia.

Divisional Council meetings were held on Tuesday 31 October, followed by the National Council proper on Wednesday 1 November and Thursday 2 November.  The agenda was jam-packed with reports from all branches and divisions, along with important discussions about the future of our industries and the direction of the Union.

An impressive list of guest speakers addressed the National Council, including

  • Hon Brendan O’Connor MP – Shadow Minister for Workplace Relations;
  • Paddy Crumlin – National Secretary of the MUA and President of the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF);
  • Dr Jim Stanford – Executive Director of the Centre for Future Work;
  • Thomas Costa – Assistant Secretary of Unions NSW;
  • Hon Tony Burke MP – Federal Member for Watson;
  • Senator Sam Dastyari;
  • Sophie Cotsis MP – NSW Member for Canterbury;
  • Phil Cleary – football coach and social justice campaigner, and former Federal MP;
  • Akinori Yanaga – General Secretary of the Japan Confederation of Railway Unions (JRU); and
  • Ged Kearney – ACTU President 



A number of important motions were passed – and delivering on these motions will now form an important part of the National Office’s work program for the coming two years. 

Some of the major issues discussed included:

RTBU-324.jpgAutomation, Privatisation and New Models of Work

A motion was passed calling on the National Office to use the ITF Congress in October 2018 to take a lead role in developing an international and industry-wide approach to the issues of automation, privatisation and new models of work.  The National Office will continue research into the changes in work in our industries. 

Register of Industrial Disputes and Agreements

A motion was passed instructing the National Office to establish a Register of Industrial Disputes and Agreements to collate and store information about all industrial and legal issues the union is dealing with or has dealt with in the past. This system should also function as a central agreements database for all RTBU enterprise agreements. 

Mentoring Network

A motion was passed instructing National Office to supplement the work of Branches and Divisions by developing an RTBU Mentoring Program, with an initial focus on industry specific practical skills such as bargaining, campaigning and understanding the importance of industry classifications and competencies.

RTBU-10.jpgNational Style Guide & RTBU Branding

A motion was passed endorsing the national RTBU Style Guide and to implement a consistent style across all RTBU materials and communications. 


Preventing Violence Against Women

A motion was passed regarding the inclusion of domestic violence prevention training in national training syllabus for both Delegates and Officials – to equip them with practical skills for recognising and responding to situations where domestic violence may be taking place. This will further the RTBU’s position as a community leader in the campaign to stop violence against women. 

Backing Civil Society

A motion was passed endorsing the provision of up to $25,000 to civil society groups to assist them to advocate for fairness, justice and equality in accordance with the RTBU’s objects.

RTBU-86.jpgFighting Back Against the Federal Government’s Building Code 

A motion was passed instructing National Office to continue to campaign for the abolition of the Federal Government’s so-called “Building Code”, which is undermining the rights and working conditions of workers in the rail infrastructure sector. In the meantime, National Office will also investigate a public campaign to declare rail transport an “essential service” for the purposes of the Building Code 

Public Transport Safety Campaign

A motion was passed instructing the National Office to continue work on a national campaign to develop a safer and more respectful public transport culture, and to continue holding an annual National Day of Respect of Public Transport Workers.

Click here to see a video with highlights of Day One of the National Council.

Click here to see a video with highlights of Day Two of the National Council.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the National Council proceedings on the RTBU National Facebook page. 


The RTBU National Council Dinner is always an important opportunity for our Union to engage with leaders from across the labour movement.  This year the dinner celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Great Strike, which started in the Randwick tram workshops and Eveleigh Carriageworks.  The MC for the night was writer, historian and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons, and our guest speaker was Deputy Leader of the Opposition Tanya Plibersek.  National Secreetary Bob Nanva also gave a stirring address about the legacy of the 1917 strikers.

Click here to see a video of the National Council dinner.

Click here to see the video explaining the significance of the Great Strike, narrated by Sally McManus.

Click here to see a photo gallery of the National Council Dinner on the RTBU National Facebook page. 


The National Council and Dinner showed that our Union is strong, determined and focussed. We are building on our proud past to forge a better future for our members.