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Loco Express: Secretary’s Report, 6 November 2020

Dear members,

It’s been a turbulent few days with State government decisions seeking to arbitrarily slash/limit wages and opportunities for workers who have been integral to bringing us through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But first, I would like to acknowledge last week’s edition of Loco Express, which was a special release celebrating the life and times of Bernie Willingale after his passing on Thursday 22nd October. As you may know, Bernie was the longest serving Secretary of the AFULE (now Locomotive Division). For those who missed it, you can read our special release on Loco Express.

In NSW now, freight operators have called out the Berejilkian Government for sabotaging its own targets to shift freight transport from roads to rail and hurting its chances of reaching its goal of 28% of containers sent to Port Botany being transported by rail by 2021. An incentive scheme to provide rail a 20% share of freight operations in light of more freight permits being handed to A-double trucks and high productivity vehicles rather than freight trains.

Despite Transport for NSW’s attempts to justify this by citing operational constraints, and limits to productivity and safety, it does not address the damaging effects that failed targets will have on rail freight and members who are the back bone of  the industry.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has defended the government’s 1.5% public sector wage cap as part of the budget strategy to address the COVID-19 economic crisis. This cap has deepened the wound after a previous announcement of a temporary 0.3% wage cut for public sector workers over the next 12 months. To add further insult, Mr. Perrottet has called this cap a “generous policy”.

Time and time again, the government has set the crosshairs on workers who are essential in keeping us moving throughout the pandemic. Taking away their right to a fair and just wage is a damning move that will definitely cause yet another unsurprising dent on the government’s reputation. The Government may think they can set wage increase caps/limits by decree, but Unions get their direction from members, not a Government or Government Business entity.

In PN news, the two members sessions at Port Kembla Leagues Club resulted in  a unanimous vote from members to start Protected Industrial Action. As we have not heard from Pacific National since 2 September 2020, we have notified and now commenced two types of Protected Industrial Action at the request of members, and notified of a further three actions members will take. A ban on Overtime, and a ban on Piloting Duties commenced at 8:00am on Thursday 5th November and will conclude at 8:00am on Thursday 26th November. Remember, Pacific National cannot force you to do Overtime or Piloting Duties within this period. Your dedicated Organisers and Delegates are continuing to power through.

As to upcoming industrial action, on Friday 13 November 2020, members will commence a 4 hour work stoppage from 2:00pm-6:00pm.  From 8:00am on 14 November 2020, until 8:00am on 26 November 2020 members will commence a ban on unloading limestone wagons. On Tuesday, 17 November 2020 members will then take a four hour stop work meeting from 10:30am until 2:00pm.

Friday 30th October saw a Rail Ops EA Update from Momentum Rail. Negotiations continue to trudge along slowly, and with difficulty. At present, the Master Roster seems out of Management’s reach, and the suggested 12 hours MINIMUM of work per month for Part Time workers is a joke. Nevertheless, your RTBU bargaining team is working hard to ensure the best outcome for current and future members. 

In NIF news the RTBU was informed late on Wednesday afternoon that their “NIF Mission Readiness” exercise, was cancelled for the second time. Management was deliberately obtuse about why this exercise had been cancelled and had to be reminded, repeatedly, of their obligations to include the RTBU in this process. Members have expressed their very real concerns about the dangerous NIF operating model, and their fears about what may happen should NSW Trains continue with the mission readiness plans.

The ongoing chaos created by the manufacture of the NIF should have sounded warning bells to NSW Trains, however they seem destined to make the same mistake again with the New Regional Fleet (NRF). The RTBU has been informed that the NRF contract has been signed and that there are very few alterations that can be made to the design. Once again this process was completed under the cover of darkness without proper consultation or involvement of the Union or HSRs. Although no operating model has been put forward yet, we’re not holding our breath.

In Solidarity, 

Bob Hayden
RTBU Locomotive Division ​Secretary