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News & Views from the RTBU NSW Locomotive Division

Rail industry desperate to discredit union’s safety fears: have your say

Apr 30, 2012Update

The rail industry is resorting to outright lies in order to discredit the RTBU and its opposition to the proposed scrapping of the 12-hour shift cap as part of the new Rail Safety National Law.

In response to comments by Bob Nanva RTBU National Secretary on ABC Radio National about the dangers of watering down rail safety protections, the rail industry has accused the union of “scaremongering”.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) spokesman Bryan Nye claimed there are currently no train drivers in the network driving anywhere near 12 hours because all drivers’ EBA agreements have shift lengths far less than 12 hours.

“This is fundamentally wrong and misleading,” said Bob Hayden, NSW Loco Division Secretary. “Almost all our agreements have the facility for drivers to work 12-hour shifts and for the ARA to say anything different proves the comments are more to do with spin rather than fact.”

In fact excessive shift lengths were one of the main complaints the union was taking to employers.

“We have people out there doing shift lengths of not only 12 hours but 14 and at times more, and with one employer alone having regular multiple complaints about excessive shift lengths.

“If this is the deception being spread by the rail industry before the new laws are passed, just imagine what it’s going to be like if the laws are weakened and the industry is regulating itself in regards to shift lengths and safety?”

The rail industry’s desperate attack on the union indicates their concern that state and federal transport ministers may actually listen to the facts rather than spin and take the union’s valid safety fears seriously.

If the union’s position is upheld, the hard-won existing protections for workers will be maintained and employers will not be able to dictate safety regulations that suit their own bottom line.

Click to listen to the ABC interview with Bob Nanva and Dave Mathie – Fatigue Management_ABC_AM

Click to listen to the rail industry response on ABC radio

Have your say on fatigue by commenting below.

4 Comments to “Rail industry desperate to discredit union’s safety fears: have your say”

  • sent to Bryan Nya via ARA website email address

    Bryan Nye
    We the locomotive drivers at Pacific National Pt Augusta dispute your comments below,

    Rail union and industry on a collision course over safety reforms
    Emily Bourke reported this story on Friday, April 27, 2012 07:26:00
    BRYAN NYE: Oh look I accept that the longer you work that you have greater risk. But the fact is that there is no train drivers in the networks driving anywhere near 12 hours at the current time because every one of their EBA agreements is a lot less than that.

    We at the Pt Augusta Depot work on a regular basis 12 hour shifts on the TAR line with 2up working to Cook the above statement is both uninformed and insulting that someone of your supposed education could make such a statement.
    We see on your Australasian Railway Association website both your support for the current reforms with fatigue/shift lengths that are in the upper house of Parliament as we speak and your celebrations of the 100 year anniversary of the TAR line is this the legacy your organisation wants to leave on the TAR line by stretching Train Drivers hours out to exceed 12 hrs for the next 100 years the most prestigious train on the TAR the Indian Pacific is currently a rostered 12 hour shiftPt Augusta to Cook some 800 km,
    When I drive my car anywhere in South Australia I see television advertising and road signs to rest every 2 hours this is a community standard yet you seem to think driving a train for 12 hours plus is a safe practice.
    We would hope yourself and your organization would be lobbying the Government to improve infrastructure on the TAR line to improve productivity in regards to train running not simply going down the easy path of attacking our shift lengths this is unsound and unsafe.
    At the moment with increased train services on the TAR line with trains between 5000t to 8000t pounding the infrastructure on a daily basis it is like being stuck travelling with a pack of caravans on a highway it is clear to all with your thinking that rather than improving the infrastructure to improve productivity on the TAR you are taking the cost saving exercise in extending shift lengths we utterly condemn such thinking as it is at our detriment and safety.

    Steven Waters
    Locomotive Driver
    Port Augusta SA

  • Hi,

    We at Tasrail also dispute the comment made by Bryan Nye, our Cement Train crews work DOO Remote control for 12.5 hour shifts, other crews do work in excess of 12 hours during derailments, breakdowns and late train running.

    Train Crews can be worked for 16 hours in an emergency, if maximum capped hours are removed what could these hours blow out to and will our minimum breaks between shifts be also shortend?

    Regards David Payne

    RTBU Tasmanian Rail Division Secretary.

  • Seems to me like Drivers in Tasrail work excessive hours(above 12) already. There’s no way I would want to work DOO to 12 hours. With this already going on is it any wonder Nye aka the ARA & other vested interests want to implement it nationally?
    In QLD we in QRN operate DOO with ATP to 9 hrs sign on to sign off. If ATP fails we continue for 90 mins & a second driver has to be supplied. Until we( the drivers) have an agreed position as to shift lengths & breaks between nationally in our EBA’s this sort of attack by Nye & co will continue. United we should stand.

  • It appears to me that the ARA have not done there research before making a in correct statement on ABC radio that no drivers currently work or have provisions for 12 hour shifts in there EBA, if they were to get the facts before making a complete fool of themselves they would have found out that almost all rail operators have 12 hour shifts in there EBA, for example GWA, QRN & PN just to name a few as a driver myself I am an currently are required to do 12 hours shifts when rosetted to do we also cover 10hour shift lengths and DOO shifts are 9 hours and I can tell you that when you run 5 x 9 or 10 shift by the time your rdo come come you are fatigued, to lift these shift lengths would put our industry at a high risk, because as drivers now from over the years things like this get in and companies will use it to there maximum advantage because the driver will ware the fall out if and accident happens because they will say you were fatigued and you should not have taken the job

    Paul Turner
    Locomotive driver

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