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Media Release – ARTC vote opens privatisation door wider

Aug 16, 2016Media releases

Having been informed by the ARTC that the ballot on the Enterprise Agreement received a majority yes vote the combined rail unions have said that the result will see the government owned entity privatised, and conditions reduced across the whole company. 

Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW Branch Secretary, Alex Claassens thanked workers, but said that fear-mongering and pressure from ARTC and the federal government put employees in an unfair position. 

“I want to thank the workers across ARTC, and from other unions, who have shown their support and solidarity fighting for a better deal. They sacrificed a lot to stand up for their fellow workers,” Mr Claassens said. 

“ARTC has been rewarded for demonising workers publicly and running a misinformation campaign for weeks, even calling on the Federal Government to pressure workers into signing this dud deal. In the end, their tricky tactics worked. 

“The union will now fight even harder in upcoming EA negotiations for other ARTC workers to deliver stronger job protections for our members.” 

Unions have been fighting to enshrine into the EBA a number of policies that face being stripped away should ARTC be privatised. 

“This vote mattered because a number of the conditions that ARTC workers enjoy now are not part of the enterprise agreement and only exist in changeable workplace policies that will disappear if the government goes ahead with the privatisation of the company,” Mr Claassens said. 

“The union calls on ARTC to publicly confirm that all conditions and entitlements will be protected in any restructure or privatisation. 

“These negotiations were marked by the unprecedented and extraordinary intervention by two Federal Government Ministers, which shows that the government will do anything to ensure their plans to fatten up the ARTC goose to sell it off for $4 billion aren’t stopped. 

“It is clear that the Federal Government is petrified about the impact of these negotiations on the possible sale value of ARTC, sending Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and Transport Minister Darren Chester into the scrum to protect the company and put pressure on workers. 

“Minister Chester confirmed the Federal Government is proceeding with ‘market testing’ for private sector involvement in ARTC work – and worse still – refused to rule out the wholesale privatisation of the entire ARTC business. 

“The government will see this vote as a win in their attempts to privatise ARTC with the new enterprise agreement reducing future financial liabilities for the company and making it a more attractive purchase for the private sector. 

“ARTC have been able to strip back conditions and entitlements, creating a new precedent for future agreement negotiations, and with infrastructure workers due to start negotiations soon on their own EA, this dud deal with be held up as the standard.” 

Mr Claassens slammed the voting process, with the union raising concerns about transparency and fairness. 

“ARTC dropped a proposal to workers, then immediately announced a vote with little consultation with employees, or the union about what was actually in the proposal,” Mr Claassens said. 

“The vote was conducted by a private company, contracted to ARTC, so the RTBU has not been given the opportunity to scrutinise any part of the ballot and that is a cause for concern. 

“ARTC has been able to cherry-pick the time of the ballot, the wording of the ballot, who gets to vote and who doesn’t, and are the only ones to confirm the validity of the vote. This is just another one of their tricky tactics.” 

In light of the result the combined rail unions will now meet and seek legal advice to ascertain what options may be available to them so that they can continue the fight to protect employee entitlements.  

END

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