Australia : ARTC employee's industrial action leads to coach replacements for all Border XPT and V/Line train services
ARTC employee's industrial action leads to coach replacements for all Border XPT and V/Line train services
CROWDED COACHES: Judy Close, of Albury, packed her lunch in anticipation of a
long journey to Sydney. She, like many passengers, said there was a lack of room on coaches when compared with train services. Picture: MARK JESSER
AN arthritis-stricken passenger, who suffers cramps, was among hundreds affected by the first day of industrial action stopping Border train services.
Staff at the Australian Rail Track Corporation, owned by the federal government, went on strike following 18 months of failed negotiations with their employer.
The action meant several freight services were abandoned and passenger trains, including V/Line and XPT, between Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra ran as buses.
Joan Wenke, who was travelling to Canberra, feared it would be an unpleasant journey.
“I have arthritis and you get cramps on the coach, there isn't much room to move,” she said.
While some passengers weren't fazed by the change, others considered booking flights for future trips.
Albury's Judy Close dreaded the coach ride to Sydney – a service which ran late for its 11.50am departure time.
“I'm going up there for a medical appointment, which is not something I can miss … otherwise I would have rescheduled,” she said.
Dean Campbell, of Albury, said there were worse things that could happen, but wanted to see it resolved.
“I think maintaining railway tracks is hard enough as it is without having to fight your employer,” he said.
The Government Business Enterprise was negotiating an agreement which covers about 580 NSW staff.
Discussions included the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Electrical Trades Union, Australian Services Union and Professionals Australia.
RTBU NSW branch secretary Alex Claassens said, after months of “supposedly negotiating in good faith”, the ARTC had put an even worse offer to employees.
“When employees who control our rail network are still denied any breaks during an eight-hour shift, you can see we have some way to go,” he said.
“Many of the claims put forward by the unions could be resolved at no cost to the company – including fairer rostering principles, improved consultation with workers and better dispute resolution.”
ARTC chief executive John Fullerton said it was notified union members planned to take up to 16 forms of protected action – including stoppages from 7am Wednesday through to 7am Sunday and for two hours on Monday.
“We are disappointed these disruptions are being forced upon our customers and we apologise to them for the impacts,” he said.
Mr Fullerton said the ARTC provided a draft agreement to the NSW bargaining committee on Wednesday, which proposed a 2 per cent wage increase each year over three years and no loss of conditions. Passengers were urged to check the status of their trips.