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A Message from Robert Hayden

Dear Members,

I am writing today to let Delegates and Members know about my decision to step down as Locomotive Division Secretary effective from Wednesday 9 June 2021.  The NSW Branch Executive, following a unanimous recommendation from Divisional Council, has appointed Divisional President Farren Campbell to fill the role of Secretary until the declaration of the RTBU National Elections in 2022. 

This decision has been made in the interest of the Locomotive Division maintaining stability and unity. It is in the interest of the membership and the Locomotive Division that Farren is given the opportunity to lead. The interests of the Division and membership must always come first irrespective of personalities or the self-interest of individuals inside or outside the Locomotive Division and RTBU.

I did not make this decision lightly, but I have made it knowing that a dynamic new group of leaders are ready to step up, take on, and tackle the challenges we face for as long as the membership determines. Importantly, these leaders can take this next step without creating instability within the Division. 

Instability is a weakness that, if seen, will be used by employers and others to destabilise the union. Our focus must remain on the collective and taking on employers and governments of all persuasions who fail to lead for all. We can only do this as a stable and united Division. 

While announcing my decision to resign from my secretary position, I advised Divisional Council that I will always be prepared to support and assist the Division should it be asked and or determined by the Executive and Divisional Council.

It has been an honour to hold senior elected positions in the RTBU and Locomotive Divisions for close to 28 years, including a short period as National Secretary and 17 years as Divisional Secretary of the Locomotive Division. 

I did not make this decision lightly. After much reflection, I know that if I were to run again, I would not be able to commit to the full four years as Secretary and that it is in the best interest of members and the Division that any elected leader can commit to their full term.

The role of Locomotive Division Secretary has evolved over the years, with the “industrial” portion of the job being overtaken by “internal, political, governance, finance, people (HR) and non-industrial” work. I am happy to see this issue was identified and addressed in the recently conducted review of the Division. It is clear no one person can do, or should have to do, all the current functions of the Loco Division Secretary. Our Division is committed to evolving our roles, responsibilities, and processes to ensure the Division can continue to advance the working lives of Train Drivers.

While I believe, I have done the best I could in juggling and managing all the functions and responsibilities of the Divisional Secretary, it’s best I let others make the judgment. I did what I did when I could and tried to lead inclusively while building consensus. I have always been prepared to accept the decision of Members, Divisional Council and Executive who at the end of the day the Secretary works for. 

Unions and working people will continue to face difficult and challenging times. The ideology of the individual above the collective will challenge Unions and other collective organisations that work to create a better world. Only with a united and committed leadership will the Division grow, survive, and continue to be a “never give up” force. 

I think the Division is now ready, and it is the right time.

Our Division has continued to grow from strength to strength, now being in a financial position to employ our first-ever dedicated legal and industrial officers. We are committed to having the resources needed to represent members in the current climate. 

The Divisional Councils’ unanimous decision to conduct a review and implement its recommendations gives the Divisions’ next generation of leaders the structure, tools, and authority to lead and represent the interest of the current and next generation of members and their union at a time of rapid change with the rail industry, technology, and political environment.

We all knew that some important, difficult, and possibly uncomfortable decisions would need to be made by all of us if we are to change how we operate in the best interest of the membership to face the challenges ahead.

Our ability to organise, represent and grow the Division in the best interest of members as part of the broader RTBU and Union Movement must be our only focus. No one individual is more significant or more important than the collective.

I believe we need generational change from the top down to meet the ever-natural demographic, technological, and societal changes we face. It is with this in mind that I have made this decision.

It has been a privilege to lead the Locomotive Division.

In Continued Solidarity,

Bob Hayden