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Management should look at themselves before blaming drivers

Jul 21, 2016Loco Express

In addition to a media release yesterday, the RTBU Locomotive Division would like to address in more detail the content of the article published in the Daily Telegraph titled ‘Idle Drivers’ Pay is Runaway Train’, published Thursday 21 July 2016.

The RTBU Locomotive Division views this as an incredibly simplistic and condescending take on the roles and responsibilities of Train Drivers across the Sydney Trains network, written by a journalist with no industry knowledge and a severe lack of understanding regarding the so-called ‘failures’ or inefficiencies on the Sydney Trains network.

The RTBU would like to take this opportunity to debunk the claims made in today’s poorly-researched article, which is nothing but an obvious attempt to pass reform measures in Sydney Trains without having to go through the proper consultative process. A standard attempt at negotiating change, this article is indicative of a last-ditch attempt by transport bodies to succeed where they have failed to date for numerous reasons; an appeal to the customers only demonstrates that the RTBU Locomotive Division has achieved what it has set out to do throughout this reform process – safeguard the rights and conditions of the Locomotive Division membership.

It was stated in the article published today that Sydney Trains drivers earn $40 per hour: clearly this is incorrect and could have been a correct fact had the author of the article in question referred to the Enterprise Agreement that he was quick to condemn. The official rate for a driver is $36.8974 as evident by the Schedule in the EA and the RTBU Locomotive Division believes that every driver on the network is worth every cent.

It is also stated that drivers enjoy 5 weeks of annual leave per year. Anyone with a basic understanding of industrial relations in Australia would be familiar with the Fair Work Act and the entitlements contained therein; namely, that shift workers are afforded 5 weeks of annual leave per year. In other words, this entitlement is one that is legislated and it is the view of the Locomotive Division that if anyone has any issue with this then they can seek to relay their concerns to the Federal Government (and not the union who protects and enforces this entitlement).

The article also contends that drivers get paid more to work on NRL Grand Final day – this is a complete and utter fabrication on behalf of the author of the article. The RTBU Locomotive Division would, however, be interested in pursuing back-pay claims for this so-called ‘entitlement’ if Sydney Trains believes that it is one.

The issue of part-time drivers is also touched on in the article: it should be noted that Sydney Trains already have that option available to them but do not use it. Furthermore, it is not the role of the union to push this matter or to do Sydney Trains job for them. In addition to that, the RTBU Locomotive Division notes that the union was criticised for not backing down on ‘variable shift lengths’. As subscribers to the basic principles of mathematics, the RTBU Locomotive Division would maintain that shifts that may be worked for the duration of between 5 hours and 8 hours 33 minutes would, by definition, be considered a shift that is ‘variable’ in length.

Finally, there appears to be a common theme of drivers on Sydney Trains being lazy and sitting around in meal rooms for the majority of their shifts. What the author of the article published today does not seem to realise is that this is an issue of Sydney Trains’ own creation that could easily be rectified with smarter rostering practices – something that they have been informed of time and time again. If Infrastructure Partnerships Australia is genuinely concerned about inefficiencies within Sydney Trains, then perhaps a look at the way in which management runs their business would be a good starting place for gaining an understanding of why there are numerous issues on the railways.

The RTBU Locomotive Division does not doubt that there is a push for the privatisation of the railways following the publication of this article, with potential contenders for the tendering process becoming increasingly more obvious.

The RTBU Locomotive Division makes no apology for upholding and protecting the rights and working conditions under which our members operate. It is the members of the RTBU Locomotive Division that have, over the years, fought tirelessly in order to maintain these rights and conditions and it is the members of the RTBU Locomotive Division that will continue to fight to retain these conditions because they are worth protecting and worth fighting for. If any business – be it Sydney Trains or Infrastructure Partnerships Australia – takes issue with this, then they are welcome to pursue change via the agreed mechanisms as contained within the Enterprise Agreement.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your local Delegate or the RTBU Head Office on (02) 9264 3400.

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