NSW commuters are set for further delays from industrial action by rail workers as negotiations continue over pay, conditions and safety.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union is set to meet with the NSW government on Wednesday for talks on a new Korean-built intercity train fleet.
The strained negotiations come as the NSW government also confronts a strike by teachers on Thursday, and with public sector nurses and midwives voting to pressure it further on pay and staffing ratios.
Blockade Australia climate activists who’ve spent the past two days protesting in Sydney’s CBD, resulting in multiple arrests, are taking a break for at least 24 hours.
NSW commuters are set for further delays from industrial action by rail workers as negotiations continue over pay, conditions and safety (pictured, Sydney commuters)
Radical climate change activists from Blockade Australia descended on the city on Monday, bringing rush-hour traffic to a grinding halt (pictured, protesters in the CBD on Tuesday)
Rail workers on Tuesday began four days of industrial action including limiting train speeds to 60km/h, restricting worker movement and banning the use of foreign-made trains.
Transport for NSW has warned services could be reduced by 70 per cent during peak periods on Thursday and commuters should expect delays, altered stopping patterns and cancelled services.
A union ban on foreign-owned trains on Friday will stop the use of the Waratah, Millennium and OSCAR trains which comprise about 70 per cent of the fleet.
Travellers should also expect significant disruptions to Sydney and NSW train routes including a reduction in services to the Central Coast, Newcastle, Hunter, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands and South Coast on Thursday and Friday.
To add to peak hour pain, radical climate change activists from Blockade Australia descended on the city on Monday and Tuesday, bringing rush-hour traffic to a grinding halt.
The group will take a 24 hour break from disruptions on Wednesday to allow protesters to ‘rest and regroup’ after 21 people were arrested earlier this week.
Sally-Anne Brown, a spokeswoman for the extremist group, said at a press conference on Monday afternoon they will not stop protesting until ‘profiteering of the systems that are damaging our environment’ are completely disrupted.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union is set to meet with the NSW government on Wednesday for talks on a new Korean-built intercity train fleet (pictured, officers on a Sydney train in 2021)
When asked what she has has planned for the rest of the week, Ms Brown said: ‘The network has advertised a week of protests, but that’s all I know.’
Blockade Australia organisers posted a message on Tuesday saying there would be no protests on Wednesday.
‘We have made the call for tomorrow to be a day off,’ they said on the Telegram messaging platform via the Blockade Australia: Resist Climate Inaction channel.
‘We want people to have a chance to rest, regroup and support one another as well as connect with those who share our common purpose of resisting climate destruction.’
NSW Police have arrested 21 people in the past two days and warned on Tuesday they are prepared to act against protesters who ‘think the law does not apply to them’.
Eleven people were arrested on Tuesday during a second day of unauthorised demonstrations when about 40 people marched from Sydney’s Hyde Park up William Street towards the inner east.
On Monday, police arrested 10 people after about 50 took part in a Blockade Australia march through the CBD.
They included Mali Poppy Cooper, 22, who locked herself to the steering wheel of a car blocking driver access to the Sydney Harbour Tunnel.
She allegedly live-streamed the protest from inside a white rental hatchback when an enraged commuter began to verbally abuse her with a string of swear words before storming off.
‘You’re f***ing everyone’s day up,’ he yells. ‘Get the f*** out of the way!’
Eleven people were arrested on Tuesday during a second day of unauthorised demonstrations when about 40 people marched in Sydney’s CBD (pictured, a man with police on Tuesday)
Train drivers will begin four days of action on Tuesday over safety concerns, and will refuse to drive more than 60km/h (pictured, commuters at Central Station in Sydney)
Premier Dominic Perrottet on Tuesday described the industrial action as disappointing, saying the national rail safety regulator advised the NSW government that the new intercity trains were safe.
The most recent dispute was sparked by a government offer to pay workers up to $18,000 to operate the fleet before safety modifications are made.
The rail union’s NSW secretary Alex Claassens has accused the government of playing political games and calling that offer a bribe.
A separate negotiation meeting is also scheduled between the rail union and NSW transport department officials on Thursday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of nurses voted on Tuesday to continue with industrial action, rejecting the government’s offer of a three per cent pay rise.
NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association general secretary Brett Holmes said members will now pursue a pay rise of seven per cent.
Transport NSW has put a dramatically reduced train timetable in place following scheduled industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (pictured, commuters in Sydney in 2021)
The premier said he stood by the public sector wage offer to health staff of three per cent and a $3000 bonus, calling continued industrial action politically motivated.
Two unions representing public and Catholic school teachers are also set to address the media on Wednesday, ahead of a historic joint 24-hour strike on Thursday.
The NSW Teachers Federation and Independent Education Union NSW/ACT called the strike after Tuesday’s budget papers revealed no offer above 3.5 per cent was on the table.
Mr Perrottet has said unions organising illegal strikes should cop steep penalties.
The government wants to impose maximum fines of up to $55,000 for the first day of illegal industrial action and $27,500 for each subsequent day.