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Fix NSW Transport speech: Alex Claassens

Feb 19, 2018News

Speech by Alex Claassens, RTBU NSW Secretary

Fix NSW Transport Rally 17 February 2018

 

“Are you angry about the state of transport in NSW?? And what do we do when we are angry?? Stand up fight back, stand up fight back

 

I stand here today as a proud union leader representing thousands of public transport workers in NSW – many of them are with us today.

 

But I am also standing here with you as a passionate member of the community and a frustrated transport worker, where lately we haven’t been able to provide you the transport service that we all need and deserve.

 

And transport workers, like you, are furious at this government’s attack on our essential transport services.

 

You’ve probably heard all about the dispute we’re having over our rail enterprise agreements.

 

The way the Transport Minister has attacked the hardworking men and women of the railways during these negotiation has been nothing short of disgraceful.

 

He’s refused to negotiate in good faith for over 7 months;

 

He’s blamed workers and the union at every chance;

 

He forced workers to begin the process of industrial action – something that we never really wanted to do; and then asked the FWC to suspend our lawful strike action and we lost our right to strike.

 

And it’s still ongoing.

 

This shows us that the workplace rules in Australia are clearly broken; and we should now all get behind Sally Mc Manus and the ACTU Change the Rules campaign

 

but it also shows that our Transport Minister, Andrew Constance, has no regard for our transport services or the people who keep them running.

 

And the dispute about of our wages and conditions is just the tip of the iceberg.

 

His attacks on our transport system runs far deeper.

Let me run through some of the ways this NSW Government has attacked our essential transport services lately:

 

– During this governments term, jobs have been axed from every corner of our transport system – from ticket sellers, to customer service attendants, security staff, and cleaners, and they have refused to employ more personnel where we need them to run the day to day service, all this despite the system being stretched to breaking point.

 

– In Newcastle, the vital train line into the city was cut and the bus and ferry services were privatised.

 

We all know since they have been privatized, the transport system in Newcastle has descended into absolute chaos. Services have been cut, stops closed, workers not being paid properly and kids and less able commuters left to fend for themselves.

 

– And just last week the Transport Minister also announced he’s going to do the same with our inner-west bus services …Shame, clearly profits are being put ahead of the needs of commuters.

 

– then we have the Ferry McFerryFace debacle …what can you say about a minister that can’t even conduct a simple survey and follow the findings????

 

– and coming soon are trains that don’t fit our tracks; Metro trains with no drivers, guards or station staff, we are also looking at the closure of the Epping to Chatswood line; a line that was only opened 10 years ago and then we have the impending closure of the Bankstown line;

 

            The list goes on…

 

For many of us that work in transport – it is more than a job – it’s our life.

 

No one wants to see our transport system work more than we do, so throughout all the jobs cuts and attacks on the quality of service, we’ve continued to do whatever it takes to keep the system moving.

 

But you can’t do that for ever, we’ve been saying for a long time now that if you stretch a system too far, it will snap.

 

And snap it has.

 

When Constance introduced an ill-conceived timetable on our train network – without consulting the workers that had to deliver it – we said it would fail.

 

And fail it did.

 

We only had to wait a few weeks where we had incident during the morning peak and they were still cancelling services into the evening peak.

 

I’ve been around for many years and can’t remember the last time that happened

 

but that’s what happens when you design a timetable without any input from the people on the ground, and a timetable that relies on forced overtime.

 

A report released on Thursday this week vindicated everything that we had been saying.

 

NSW deserves a world-class system; at the moment we’ve been dished up a lemon.

 

NSW deserves better;

 

the workers who dedicate their lives to keeping the system running deserve better;

 

as commuters we all deserve better.

 

Thank you for coming out here today and standing in together in solidarity.

 

Now I do have an ask and that is, please take out your smart phones and log into ourtransport.org.au and show your support there as well.

 

This is just the beginning, we all need to stand together – people from every corner of this state and we all need to say enough is enough.

 

NSW deserves better public transport; and let’s not stop until we get it.”

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