NSW commuters face more rail disruption, including strike action in month-long campaign

Written by Javed Iqbal

NSW rail workers are stepping up industrial action for a month from Sunday by refusing to issue fines, leaving train station gates open and taking part in rolling targeted strikes.

The action is part of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s (RTBU) ongoing campaign to secure safety changes to the new intercity fleet, in the face of what they say is the NSW Government’s stubborn refusal to do so.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said workers hoped the government would sign a document committing to the changes.

“We have done everything by the book to get these important safety changes, but the government refuses to listen,” he said.

“We’ve had plenty of verbal promises before, so this time we need to see it committed to in a binding document.”

a man with a mustache looking sideways
Alex Claassens hopes the NSW Government will commit to fixing the intercity fleet.(ABC News)

The union and state government have been at odds for months over the safety of the $2 billion intercity fleet, which has remained idle in maintenance sheds despite a planned 2019 rollout.

One of the biggest concerns for the union is that guards cannot see children “at crucial moments”.

Rolling strikes will start on Wednesday 10 August from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the union saying strikes will occur in one area at a time – meaning trains will be able to continue running in most areas of the state.

Commuters will also face rolling strikes on Wednesday 17 August, Tuesday 23 August and Thursday 25 August.

Other industrial action includes a ban on foreign-made trains, transport officers not issuing fines and a ban on cleaners using vacuum cleaners or scrubbers.

Claassens said he accepted there would be some impact on commuters, but said the union would try to minimize it.

“We have done a lot of work to ensure that our actions will affect management and government and not the traveling public,” he said.

“There is no reason why, with some planning and common sense, the trains cannot continue to run relatively smoothly while our actions take place.

“We understand that commuters will be frustrated because we are frustrated too.”

NSW Transport has been contacted for comment.

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Javed Iqbal

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