Sydney Trains workers announce 24-hour strike on January 29


Sydney Trains workers have announced that they will go on strike for 24-hours on January 29.

Sydney and NSW rail workers will go on strike for 24 hours after negotiations between the train union and rail management fell through.

The work stoppage will begin at 12.01am on Monday January 29, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union says.

"We're disappointed it's had to come to this, but management and the NSW government haven't left us with any other options," NSW union secretary Alex Claassens said on Tuesday.

"The terrible way management and the NSW government are willing to treat its hard-working employees has been laid bare for everyone to see lately.

"All workers are asking for are fair working conditions and wages in return for the work they do.

“Our members have made it very clear that they’ve had enough of being attacked by the NSW Transport Minister, and that it’s time the Government and management sit down with us and come to an agreement on a range of different working conditions and terms we need to secure."

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance
NSW transport minister Andrew Constance apologised after the Sydney train network was thrown into chaos last week.

"Workers are being stretched to capacity trying to deliver the shambolic new timetable, and now on top of this they're all being told they can't be guaranteed fair conditions and pay."

The union met with Sydney Trains management on Tuesday to discuss the new train timetable implemented in November.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance said he hoped workers wouldn't strike and the government wanted to negotiate in "good faith" with the union.

The strike announcement comes after a horror week for the city's rail network, which left thousands of commuters stranded in peak hour.

Rail workers are unhappy about the current enterprise agreement and have voted to take industrial action as they continue to fight for a six per cent pay rise and improved working conditions.

Premier's apology 

The NSW premier apologised to passengers caught up in last week's Sydney train chaos and admitted more should have been done ahead of time to prevent the system meltdown.

Almost 40 train services scheduled to run through Monday were cancelled ahead of the morning and afternoon peaks to avoid a repeat of last week's debacle that left thousands of passengers stranded.

The meltdown was due to a combination of storms, trackwork, a spike in sick leave and "excess" annual leave approvals.

"With the benefit of hindsight we should have taken proactive action and reduced the number of services that day (Tuesday) and let customers know, so that those delays weren't experienced," Gladys Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

Sydney commuters frustrated by train delays
Sydney commuters frustrated by train delays

"I want to wholeheartedly apologise to all of our customers. The system most days is world class and some days, unfortunately, we let commuters down."

Ms Berejiklian revealed that if "permanent tweaks" were needed to Sydney's new more intensive train timetable "then we'll make them".

Travellers on the busy North Shore and Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra lines also faced delays due to urgent signal equipment repairs at Milson's Point and Central respectively.

The NSW government blamed last week's meltdown on drivers calling in sick and storm damage but it was later revealed management had also approved "excess" annual leave.

Passengers board a train at Circular Quay in Sydney
NSW train drivers will strike for 24 hours on January 29 over a pay rise and conditions.

"It's ridiculous that in a city like Sydney we have a timetable that is so poorly designed that it may struggle to get commuters to and home from work on Monday because of these foreseen events," RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens told AAP in a statement.

"We've been warning for months that this timetable won't be able to cope with even minor issues and that the smallest of incidents could send the network into chaos."

Turnbull staff awarded pay rise 

Meanwhile, Turnbull government staff members have received a 30 per cent pay rise as it was revealed there has been little or modest wage growth for average Australians.

Prime Minister Turnbull has defended the decision, saying the pay rise was necessary.

However the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Ged Kearney said it was everyday Australians who needed a pay rise, not top political staffers.

“There are so many Australians who need a pay rise far more than the Prime Minister’s top political staffers, who already earn hundreds of thousands," Kearney said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"Instead of bending over backwards to give highly paid executive staffers even more money; the Turnbull Government should focus on the wages of every day working Australians, who are suffering record low wage growth, including people who work in the front line delivering our public services.

“The Prime Minister’s top executives are getting this special treatment but the government has imposed pay freezes and real wage cuts on average public sector workers.


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