RTBU puts unsafe train plan back in the siding

NSW rail workers have chalked up a major victory in their fight over inadequate staffing and major safety issues of the Berejiklian Government's trouble-plagued New Intercity Fleet (NIF) trains.


A recent Fair Work Commission decision means the State Government must now get agreement from the RTBU before making any changes to the role of guards or drivers.

The RTBU has long argued that staffing changes demanded by the NSW State Government to operate the NIF will undermine public safety.

“It was a hard-fought battle. Now we finally have the written confirmation that NSW Trains cannot do this!” NSW Secretary Alex Claassens said.

Under the proposal guards were going to be replaced with “Customer Service Guards” who would have a much-reduced safety role. Drivers would have had to monitor safety on board and on platforms through CCTV cameras. Workers argued this would lead to increased safety risks, such as the risk of a passenger falling between a train and the platform without being notice.

Extra claims

The Union took its case to the Fair Work Commission, which found the changes proposed by NSW Trains should be treated as extra claims under Clause 13 of the Enterprise Agreement.

"These changes involved alterations to the classifications, working arrangements and payments of employees," Alex said.

"The Commission found that NSW Trains can’t implement its proposals unless it is done in accordance with Clause 12, which outlines the process for making changes to the Enterprise Agreement.

"This means NSW Trains cannot bring in the new classifications of Intercity Specialist Driver and Customer Service Guard unless there is an in-principle agreement with the RTBU.”

The RTBU has been battling the State Government since 2016 over plans for the NIF.

Alex said the Fair Work Commission decision also meant the State Government would not be able to introduce the new trains, which cost $2.4 billion and are made in South Korea, without coming to an agreement with the union first.

“This decision quite clearly says we were right and they were wrong ... so it’s back to the negotiating table for them.”