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Media Release – Light rail stoppages loom as safety concerns increase

Service stoppages will affect light rail this week as the safety of commuters is being put at serious risk by dangerously crowded carriages, increased driver shift limits, and unrealistic passenger turnaround times, light rail drivers say.

In a unanimous vote, light rail drivers agreed to protected industrial action, with a stop work meeting to cause service stoppages between 10am and 2pm on Thursday June 16.

Workers say they have been forced to take action to end a standoff with operator Transdev, which is refusing to address safety concerns as part of enterprise agreement negotiations with drivers.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) Tram and Bus Divisional President, David Woollams, said drivers are concerned that the company’s attempt to increase driver shift limits as part of the current negotiations will affect passenger safety.

“Even with patronage up by 85 per cent in the past 12 months, drivers have managed to cut running times on the Dulwich Hill line by six minutes. They are already stretched to the limit and the company is trying to squeeze more,” Mr Woollams said.

“Drivers are doing everything they can to keep the system running smoothly, but the safety of commuters is being put at risk – any further cuts would have serious safety consequences for workers and passengers.

“In order to meet Transdev’s unrealistic demands, drivers are forced to get overcrowded carriages of people on and off within 45 seconds, navigate around people walking onto the tracks because of inadequate safety signage, and now they face having to work longer shifts on top of it all which is a serious fatigue risk. It’s an accident waiting to happen.

“Our drivers love what they do, but they’ve got to the point where they can’t continue to sit back and watch while Transdev puts their safety and the safety of their passengers at risk.

“We didn’t want to have to get to this point, but Transdev has left us with no other option.

“We’re hopeful that Transdev will agree to listen to drivers’ concerns and come back to the negotiating table. Drivers don’t want this protected action to impact on commuters, but their safety and the safety of passengers is too important to ignore.”

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