Speirs lights fire under enterprise negotiations for SA train workers

South Australian Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister David Speirs has thrown a match under the State Government’s upcoming pay deal with rail workers by framing the  Enterprise Agreement negotiations as a de facto referendum on public transport privatisation.


Last weekend, Mr Speirs told ABC News 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 [privatisation] process.”

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) subsequently wrote to Mr Speirs demanding a retraction and apology for his comments, but no response has been received.


RTBU SA/NT Secretary Darren Phillips said Mr Speirs comments were factually incorrect, and designed to mislead the community into thinking that public transport workers supported privatisation.

“For a start, train workers have not even voted on an Enterprise Agreement yet.

“An Enterprise Agreement deal has been reached for tram workers – which included a three-year job guarantee to protect workers from the impact of privatisation.

“Now tram workers have had their Agreement cynically thrown back in their face.

“To suggest that tram workers support the privatisation process is flat out wrong.

“If tram workers had been asked to vote on whether they support the privatisation process, the outcome would have been an overwhelming NO vote.”


Mr Phillips said the RTBU was currently in negotiations with the State Government for a new Enterprise Agreement covering several hundred workers on the Metro train system.

“Train workers are already angry about having their jobs privatised in the middle of a pandemic, and the disrespectful comments from Minister Speirs has only added fuel to the fire.

“We will not take a backward step in this negotiation – it must deliver safe services for the community and job protection for workers.”