More Train Disruption to Hit NSW This Week So Tell Your Boss You’re WFH

Major disruptions that have hammered the NSW train network over the past month are still coming thick and fast as 70% of the fleet will stop work this week.

Both the Rail Trains and Bus Union and the government are placing the blame for the stoppage on each other while Transport for NSW has told commuters not to travel on Wednesday, August 31.

Despite reports last week that both parties had arrived at a potential “breakthrough” over safety issues in the use of foreign-made trains, meetings on Sunday only threw up further problems.

The transport union has said that it won’t sign a proposed agreement to end the chaos as the deal allows the government to re-neg on the decision if further agreements aren’t reached in three months.

As such, some of the heaviest delays we’ve so far seen will be hitting Sydney tomorrow.

Trains will not run on the T5 Cumberland line, while busses are set to replace trains on the T3 Bankstown line and the T7 Olympic Park line. Most train lines excluding regional pre-paid services will run at a 30-minute frequency.

“Customers in Greater Sydney should expect delays, altered stopping patterns and cancellations across most of the suburban network, with at least a 30-minute gap between services,” Transport for NSW has said in a statement.

“We recommend you avoid non-essential travel”.

The long-running disagreement between the NSW government and the RTBU has been caused by a failure to reach an agreement over safety and job security issues that date back years.

Strikes have hit much of the state’s metropolitan areas throughout the last few months with industrial action taking place because of the use of new, foreign-made trains on the lines which the union says are unsafe. The government has tied other worker safety and pay concerns to the decision over the new trains, requiring one to be solved before the other.

This co-commitment was withdrawn over the weekend, however it appears not to have made things easier. RBTU Secretary Alex Claassens has said that the union has “put a position to them” which includes a 0.5% pay rise above the public sector wage cap as well as modifications to the new trains.

NSW Transport Minister David Elliot predicted that, based on the current state of negotiations, industrial action could continue for months.

“The worst-case scenario in my mind, could be up to six months,” he has said.

At the same time, Elliot didn’t rule out the possibility that this could all be wrapped up at the next meeting and that the strikes could end this week.

Claassens however said something similar last week when announcing that a “breakthrough on the deal” could be imminent following a recent meeting at the Blacktown Workers Club.

“Unless another minister interferes with that process, we may actually be able to come out and say, sometime tomorrow afternoon or in the next few days, that there’ll be a breakthrough on the deed,” he told the media.

“We’ve been fighting the safety of the new intercity fleet for over six years, we’ve been trying to get them to commit to a document that’s in writing.”

NSW Premier Dominc Perrotett has weighed in, saying the Wednesday strikes will be “devastating” and are politically motivated.

“Every time that we have made concessions to fix that issue [with the new trains], the union has come out and said ‘we’ll move onto something else’,” he said.

Claassens has previously said that strike action is not designed to affect passengers but instead is targeted at the government.

“The protected industrial action being taken by rail workers will, by design, impact very few workers at any one time,” he said earlier this month.

“Only 10% of drivers and guards will be affected by our industrial action. The protected industrial action being taken is certainly an inconvenience for management — that was the plan. But by no means is it reason to shut a whole rail line down.”

Claassens also noted, “Rail workers have long said they will refuse to drive the New InterCity Fleet until the significant safety issues are adequately addressed — a decision that has been backed by a Federal Court ruling. As soon as those safety concerns are addressed, we’ll happily operate them.”

These train workers aren’t the only individuals that are currently unhappy with the NSW government. The NSW Teachers Federation and the Independent Education Union of Australia have also said that ongoing industrial action is likely to continue as disagreements over pay and working conditions have not been resolved. Similar action is also being taken in some sectors of the medical profession as nurses and doctors voice similar concerns

Passengers who do decide to travel are being urged to check travel alerts for the latest updates and use TransportNSW’s Plan Your Trip service to find alternative transport options.

Related: Your Train Trips Are About to Get Less Packed, According to the NSW Government

Related: Working From Home Might Be Your Best Bet This Week as More Train Strikes Hit NSW

Read more stories from The Latch and subscribe to our email newsletter.