Sydney train strikes: Transport union and government reach agreement to end train strikes

Major breakthrough in long-running Sydney rail dispute that has caused months of train chaos

  • Sydney train and bus disruptions have come to an end with modification deal
  • The union and government have been at ends of a fleet of Korean-built trains 
  • The union wanted $1billion safety modifications to improve platform monitoring
  • Both reached agreement on Friday with the union cancelling further action 

The NSW government has finally carved out a deal with the rail union to modify a fleet of trains after months of bitter negotiation and industrial action.

‘Today we have put the people of Sydney first,’ Premier Dominic Perrottet said in a joint statement issued late on Friday with Finance Minister Damien Tudehope and Transport Minister David Elliott.

The parties had been at odds over whether or not to make safety modifications to a multibillion-dollar Korean-built fleet of intercity trains, which have been in storage since 2019.

The government reached the deal with the union on Friday after months of stymied talks and accusations of bad faith from both sides.

Sydney's train strikes have come to an end with the government and transport union reaching an agreement on Friday (pictured, Sydney commuters)

Sydney’s train strikes have come to an end with the government and transport union reaching an agreement on Friday (pictured, Sydney commuters)

In a letter to its members on Friday night, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union praised its members for their ‘unity’ and ‘commitment’, saying the government had been forced to make a number of concessions.

Modifications to the trains will allow guards to monitor platforms on approach and departure, enhancing safety. The government had argued they were unnecessary and would cost up to $1billion.

‘Millions of Sydney and NSW rail commuters will now be able to catch a train without being unfairly hit by union disruption, following an agreement between the NSW government and the Combined Rail Unions,’ the premier and ministers said.

‘For too long school kids, people going to work and small businesses have had their lives and businesses turned upside down by industrial action by the rail unions.’

RTBU state secretary Alex Claassens confirmed to AAP the deal had been struck.

‘We knew eventually common sense would prevail and the government would come to the table with a commitment to deliver the safe trains and the fair enterprise agreement commuters and workers deserve,’ he said.

Transport Minister David Elliott (above) announced the end of the strikes in a joint statement on Friday after months of union negotiations over a fleet of Korean-built trains

Transport Minister David Elliott (above) announced the end of the strikes in a joint statement on Friday after months of union negotiations over a fleet of Korean-built trains

‘This win for workers means there is no need for the industrial action planned for next week.’

The deal was signed after Sydney commuters enjoyed a week of free transport, offered by the government to avert planned industrial action, which would have seen the network’s capacity cut to one third.

The government and union then entered mediation throughout the week as they sought to resolve the long-running dispute.

Labor welcomed the resolution and that ‘common sense has finally prevailed’, but said it shouldn’t have taken this long.

‘There are serious questions to why the government failed to sign a deed regarding the future of the new intercity fleet until today,’ transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said.

The union disruption was to demand $1billion safety modifications for improved platform monitoring by approaching and departing trains (pictured, Sydney commuters)

The union disruption was to demand $1billion safety modifications for improved platform monitoring by approaching and departing trains (pictured, Sydney commuters)

Left to be ironed out are details of the rail union’s new enterprise agreement after the current agreement expired last year.

Both parties have agreed those details can be independently ruled on by the Fair Work Commission.

‘We’re not at the finish line yet, but our unity and commitment has forced the government to make the safety alterations … and we’ve pushed them to a point where a fair agreement is within reach,’ the RTBU wrote to its members on Friday.

The government said the Fair Work Commission process would result in a vote from the rail unions, and an ongoing arbitration process as they worked through some outstanding issues.

‘While these Fair Work Commission processes are underway, the Combined Rail Unions have agreed not to undertake any industrial action,’ the government said.

Source

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