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Loco Express: Secretary’s Report

Jul 10, 2020Secretary's run-down

July 10, 2020

Dear members,

The Division is still at loggerheads with NSW Trains as we continue to reject their unsafe and unrealistic NIF Operating model.

From what we have seen, their Operating Instruction Manual is pure fantasy and would not be out of place in a Harry Potter novel.

NSW Trains seem to be of view that writing something down and saying it’s safe and perfect makes it so… In reality, they need to stop pretending they know what they are doing and start listening to their workforce, instead of the voices in their heads.

Following our single and limited visit to the see the NIF after a fight at the FWC, the Division is even more concerned than ever. Having seen one of the outlined procedures completely fail in front of our eyes, we cannot possibly go along with this unsafe model NSW Trains are seeking to ram through. Where is the technology that makes it all work? If the people who made it can’t get it to work during testing, how are drivers supposed to make it work out on the network?

Your representatives had to make the decision to not attend any further OIM meetings until they are able to view and test all required elements of the OIM documents on the train. They have also requested a copy of all versions of the OIMs and NTOSPs, and have demanded to know which documents have been finalised, and if not, when NSW Trains anticipates finalising them.

NSW Trains failures are a danger to members and unless Delegates and members say it is safe, we will not endorse or support the introduction of the NIF.

There are too many unsafe factors at play, and we know that they are trying to sneak through Driver Only Operation. No matter how much spin they put on it, we will not budge on our right to protect our members. We encourage you to attend the NIF depot tours we are organising. We want to hear your concerns and tell you about ours as well. We will send out more information on this as soon as we have it.

NSW Trains continues to fail in its attempt to implement a Fatigue Management Plan with a risk assessment in Dubbo finding that driver rosters did not meet the requirements of 10 hours in the barracks. Additionally, there was an issue of no forward rotation with drivers coming forward on their second day sign on time by more than 2 hrs. This feedback ultimately could not be fully implemented, and the status quo was left as is. One is left to think what on earth the risk assessment was for if it could not fix any problems and how it is possibly going to be useful in other regional depots? We are eager to see what the process uncovers and how fatigue management issues are dealt with.

Contrary to Pacific National’s recent announcement that it was scaling back its number of business units to just Coal and Freight, the confusion that is Pacific National, continued this week after they further announced their cascading structure. The Bulk and Intermodal units are now still to run as separate units but report to the one COO. This has meant that PN are now still forging ahead with their previously announced Northern restructure, albeit in a somewhat chaotic manner. Yesterday PN Coal announced they would continue to manage the Werris Creek Depot until the 1st of August when the Bulk business will assume responsibility for the depot. The company are still planning on enforcing the cuts to Werris Creek Depot and have offered a number of employees VR. This decision seems strange when from all reports, the looming grain harvest appears to be the biggest in decades and the new depot site for the bank engines has still not been determined. Additionally, the new Barracks location at Greta is still being rushed by the company even though they are yet to carry out identified repairs and alterations required to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

“A recent ATO amnesty on Superannuation Guarantee Payments has seen a surge in Operators coming forward and admitting they have not been paying the correct amounts on super in certain circumstances. This has seen many of our members receive letters from their employer advising that they will have missing super paid into their Super Accounts. As part of this, some operators have only gone back 5 years. This is something we are still looking at and employees may have to review their own records of amounts not paid and ask the Tax office for a review. We urge members who are affected by this to seek independent advice from their accountants or financial advisors. If you don’t have these, don’t forget you are entitled to ask your employer for records of your pay.

As members would be aware the Victorian/NSW border was closed earlier this week. Whilst this had previously not caused major operational issues with Freight members working between NSW and Victoria as both freight and passenger members are deemed essential professions and were issued with permits, it has this time. Late Wednesday, we were advised that the NSW Government  had decided that whilst members were still essential and could get permits, they would need to self-isolate for 14 days each time they got back to their home base in NSW. This was being imposed on operators and members and would have created total havoc to the supply chain and undue frustration and stress for members. Once the Government was made aware of the chaos that would be caused by their decision, they had a rethink. As a result, they created an additional permit to not require the 14 days self-isolation after each trip where the employer has a COVID-19 Safe Plan in place for employees.

We hope you enjoy this edition of Loco Express.

Stay safe on the tracks.

In Solidarity, 

Bob Hayden
RTBU Locomotive Division Secretary

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