Sydney commuters will be plunged into chaos once again as the NSW government loses its court battle to stop train drivers from striking.
Thousands of rail workers will take part in industrial action on Wednesday following the interim decision by the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday.
The NSW government on Monday launched legal action in hopes it would put a stop to protests that disrupted the public transport network for much of last week.
Negotiations with the Rail Tram and Bus Union were left unresolved over the weekend with the state’s calls for a temporary ceasefire rejected on Tuesday.
Sydney commuters will be plunged into chaos once again as the NSW government loses its court battle to stop train drivers from striking (pictured, commuters in Sydney on Friday)
Negotiations with the union were left unresolved over the weekend with the state’s bid to halt further industrial action rejected on Tuesday (pictured, commuters in Central Station)
Both parties will return to Fair Work on Thursday for a full hearing as commuters brace for another day of disruption amid wet and wild weather conditions.
The NSW government warned the commission that protests would risk damaging the state economy and rack up a bill of nearly $250million for the new metro line.
Premier Dominic Perrottet earlier this week said the decision to launch legal action against the union was ‘not made lightly’.
He said the government would ‘do anything’ to prevent further disruptions to the network after commuters were left in the lurch last week.
The RTBU agreed at the hearing to dial-down the amount of planned industrial action this week by increasing the number of staff on trains than previously planned.
Rail workers had previously refused to man any foreign-built trains – which make up about 75 per cent of the fleet – on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Thousands of rail workers will take part in industrial action on Wednesday following the interim decision by the Fair Work Commission on Tuesday (pictured, commuters at Central Station)
Other actions are likely to include cleaners only working at their home depot and drivers not using the network to travel between stations.
The state government last week pledged to make physical alterations to the new Korean-made intercity fleet at the cost of $264million in a bid to appease the union.
The RTVU claims previous conciliatory offers were followed by backflips due to internal politics and has requested a signed legal document.
Government documents filed with the commission warned of a significant loss to the state’s economy if industrial action continued.
The state estimated the cost of the Sydney Metro City & Southwest rail line would increase by $264million with further delays to rack up a bill close to $1billion.
The state government last week pledged to make physical alterations to the new Korean-made intercity fleet at the cost of $264million (pictured, Sydney commuters in June)
The NSW government launched legal action against the union in hopes it would put a stop to protests that disrupted the network (pictured, Sydney commuters at Central Station)
‘What was missing was a specific document, which is a deed, which is what we were looking for for the RTBU, because we’ve been fighting to get this train fixed for six years,’ union secretary Alex Claasens told AAP.
He said the union’s deed ‘actually does what we need it to do’ but conceded ‘whether the transport secretary chooses to sign it is up to him’.
Mr Perrottet described RTBU’s refusal to accept the offer as ‘incredibly frustrating’ and said an agreement had to be met as soon as possible.
‘I’ve said numerous times … that I want those trains on the tracks as quickly as possible, and I’ll do everything I can to achieve that end,’ he said.
Mr Perrottet (pictured in June) described RTBU’s refusal to accept the offer as ‘incredibly frustrating’ and said an agreement had to be met as soon as possible
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the good faith shown by the government needed to be reflected by the union.
‘We can’t have a situation where millions of people wanting to get to and from work next week are trying to work though the internecine details of an agreement between the union and the government,’ Mr Minns said.
‘We need to put a pause on industrial action, work through the issues that are obviously remaining and get to an agreement.’
Mr Elliott has vowed to resign if he does not deliver on his promises to the union, while also insisting there are no safety concerns with the controversial fleet.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns said the good faith shown by the government needed to be reflected by the union (pictured, commuters at Central Station in June, 2021)
‘That is the outrageous situation that the union movement and the Labor Party have put us into,’ he told the ABC on Friday.
Earlier this week, Mr Elliott said the government had offered railway workers $3000 bonuses – described by the union as ‘bribes’ – to return to work.
On Friday only 30 per cent of Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services were operating, running to a weekend timetable.
It marked the most far-reaching disruption to the network since February when the entire rail system was shut down for 24 hours.