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Media Release – No closer to agreement as government abandons workers

As Transport for NSW hosts a goodwill tour of depots for companies tendering for contracts to operate the privatised Transport for Newcastle, drivers will again wear plain clothes to show their displeasure at a lack of support and information coming from government.

RTBU Bus and Tram Division Secretary Chris Preston said despite promises from government to come back to the negotiating table, workers are still getting a raw deal.

“During the last action Transport for NSW agreed to come back to the table, but in the last month they have again refused to budge on transitional packages and employment guarantees for workers forced to try and get a job with the private providers,” Mr Preston said.

“The government is happy to show off the goods to prospective buyers, but they aren’t willing to support the workers that privatisation will affect.”

To save money the government sneakily changed legislation in 2012 to strip redundancy protections for public sector workers transitioning to the private sector.

While existing workers may be offered a new job with the private operator, bypassing government redundancy payments, there is no guarantee how long that job will last, and once they are out of the public system then all protections are gone, leaving workers with no recourse and far fewer protections

Mr Preston said the union had written to the companies asking them to call on the government to negotiate in good faith with the workers.

“The union wrote to the tenderers to let them know that the government hasn’t been playing fair, and they will be buying a very unhappy workforce if Transport for NSW keeps treating their workers like second class citizens,” Mr Preston said.

“We are encouraging the bidders to put pressure on the government to act now before the sale goes through and it becomes their problem to deal with.

“The government is trying to keep the transitional package and job guarantee problems quiet so as to not scare the bidders, but the companies who want to run Transport for Newcastle should know what they are getting into.”

The RTBU will look to run an arbitrated case in the Industrial Relations Commission should further consultation with government fail to yield results for workers.

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