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Sydney Trains attempt to use Shift Supervisors to operate signalling panels – again!

Nov 11, 2014RTBU News

To: All RTBU Members, Signallers Sub-Division

The RTBU have become aware via emails from Sydney Trains management that Signal Box Operations are intending to utilise Shift Supervisors on panel as an “additional resource”. This was further confirmed when RTBU Delegates questioned Sydney Trains management about the email. RTBU Delegates put this matter into Step 2 of the Disputes Settlement Process on the foundation of safety and no consultation.

This is not the first time Sydney Trains have attempted to expand the Shift Supervisor’s duties. The RTBU took this matter to the Fair Work Commission on the 23rd September 2011 where it was heard before Commissioner Cambridge. One of the foundations for the dispute was on the grounds of safety. It was noted by Commissioner Cambridge when responding to Sydney Trains position on obligations of safety:

“But the difficulty here is: if there’s a difference of opinion about what is safe, I suppose. There’s always degrees of this too; it’s not a question of safe or unsafe but which is safer.”

An agreement was reached with Sydney Trains (RailCorp at the time) that stipulated Shift Supervisors are only to be put on panel to cover in extreme circumstances where there is no other area controller available at the moment to operate the panel. Extreme was further defined in a letter dated the 21st November. This stated:

“to cover extreme circumstances only, where there is no other Area Controller available at that moment to operate the panel. RailCorp does not envisage that there would be many circumstances where this would occur due to the presence of table persons and the ability to call other Area Controllers in to attend for work.”

In addition, it was further stipulated that the Shift Supervisor isn’t going to be used as an extra person to cover positions or to cover any shortages, that where there is some sort of unforeseen extreme emergency situation that has required an area controller to be taken off the operation of a panel.

The RTBU Signaller representatives have requested a meeting to address the issues of Shift Supervisors on Panel with Sydney Trains. Until this dispute has been resolved status quo is enacted and this method of work will not be commencing.

If you have any questions or comments please contact your local delegate or the RTBU Office.

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