Railtrain progress: milestone in bargaining
Today (Friday 27 August) we achieved a milestone in our bargaining with Railtrain. As reported previously, the RTBU Locomotive division (RTBULD) lodged an application in the Fair Work Commission seeking bargaining orders on the basis Railtrain, Rail Shuttle Services and some other Railtrain Companies, were not meeting the bargaining requirements of the Fair Work Act.
A conciliation meeting was conducted by teleconference this morning before Deputy President Saunders of the Fair Work Commission (Newcastle Office). The RTBU Locomotive Division maintained Railtrain Pty Ltd, Rail Train Services Pty Ltd and Rail Shuttle Services Pty Ltd should have issued Notices of Representational Rights to all employees covered by the RTBU’s scope claim, which is one NSW Enterprise agreement for Rail Operations employees.
Several other matters were also discussed including issues surrounding who employed Roll By employees in the Hunter Valley, who were included in a recent vote for the Hunter Port Services Agreement. In this regard, Railtrain stated they had made an administrative error and included three employees in the vote who were in fact employed by one of their other companies and that only left one employee employed under that proposed agreement. This raised questions as to whether the RTBU was a bargaining agent for that agreement because the employee was not an RTBU member. This has been challenged by the RTBU Locomotive Division and will be determined by the Deputy President.
Railtrain also complained that recent Loco Express articles were allegedly misleading, although this was strenuously denied by the RTBU Locomotive Division.
Despite the complicated issues in dispute, we were pleased by the meaningful conciliation that occurred and after much legal argument the company agreed that it would issue a Notice of Representational Rights to employees in the subsidiary companies of the Railtrain Group in NSW who had not received one yet.
What does this mean?
This means that all rail operations employees of all Railtrain companies in NSW are bargaining for an Enterprise Agreement to improve their wages and conditions. This does not guarantee one EA for all NSW but rather requires the company to bargain with all operational employees from all three Railtrain companies.
It also means that a Majority Support Determination (MSD) is no longer necessary to commence bargaining, but all those who have signed the petition now have their chance to bargain and we were overwhelmed by the positive response to the online MSD petition.
The RTBU will continue to push Railtrain for one NSW wide operations agreement as we believe that is the best option to ensure all Railtrain employees are afforded job security, career progression, decent wages and conditions that are closer to other rail operators in NSW. We will of course, as part of negotiation and bargaining, consider all genuine reasoning put forward by Railtrain for other options.
As part of the conciliation today it was agreed by both parties to publish the Deputy Presidents’ notation recording what was agreed. These are published below for your information.
Where to from here?
The RTBU Locomotive division will be seeking feedback from all Railtrain members over the coming weeks and will be setting up zoom meetings so as members as possible can discuss their concerns and hear the latest. The agreement reached in conciliation today is a tremendous achievement and reflects the hard work and commitment from Railtrain members out there standing up for their rights with such actions as signing the MSD and letting Railtrain know they will not accept inferior conditions. There is a long way to go, and that will take member commitment and strength, but today has been a great start.
STAY SAFE, STAY STRONG,STAY UNITED