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Media Release: Worker’s rights eroded by Fair Work’s NSW Trains decision

Aug 27, 2020Update

Collective bargaining powers are threatened by a Fair Work Commission decision today which will allow NSW Trains to alter employment conditions and classifications outside the terms outlined in its Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (EBA), the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW has warned.

The decision gives NSW Trains license to use “managerial prerogative” to change employees’ wages and classifications, and disregard the existing mechanism for making such changes in its EBA, a hard-fought agreement won by transport workers to protect their working conditions.

RTBU NSW Secretary Alex Claassens said the decision was a deeply troubling endorsement of NSW Trains’ sustained attempts to erode working conditions and circumvent the power of collective bargaining.

“The Fair Work Commission has failed working people today, plain and simple,” said Mr Claassens.

“Employees and their unions are forced to fight long and hard to secure their conditions and agree on the circumstances under which these conditions can be changed.

“Our members’ EBA with NSW Trains has such a provision. This entire case was a prolonged attempt by NSW Trains to ruthlessly renege on an agreement made in good faith with its employees.

“NSW Trains effectively has been given a license to alter its employees’ conditions whenever and however it wishes. This sets a dangerous precedent that should distress every worker in Australia.

“Unions exist to give workers a voice, fighting the staggering power imbalance between workers and their employers. Today the Fair Work Commission has allowed that voice to be silenced.

“We will of course appeal this disastrous decision and explore all options to protect transport workers from NSW Trains and the NSW Government’s toxic cost-saving agenda, which seizes every opportunity to diminish conditions for employees.”