RTBU Express
RTBU Express
Visit Bus Express Visit the Bus Express
Visit RTBU Express Visit the RTBU Express
Visit RTBU National Visit the RTBU National

Secretary’s wrap

Oct 30, 2014Secretary's run-down

Train Drivers around the world face similar challenges. In the public sector, there’s constant pressure from governments trying to cut costs by selling off rail networks and outsourcing. In the private sector, employers are always trying to drive down wages and conditions.

It was great to host visitors from the UK unions representing British Train Drivers. Mark Whelan and David Calfe from ASLEF and Derrick Marr from the RMT spoke to reps on Divisional Council about the challenges their members face.

The UK is well down the road of mass outsourcing and privatisation of rail, beginning with Thatcher in the 1980s and continuing through to today’s Cameron government which has promoted the idea of ‘Big Society’ and a greatly reduced role for government.

But we all know how important the role of government is – especially in the provision of transport services.

Rail is an extremely expensive infrastructure investment, governments are the only players we can rely on to invest in maintenance and services designed for the best outcomes for the public, not just for corporate interests.

Invariably where rail networks are privatised – the preferred option of conservative governments worldwide – service standards slip, prices rise and maintenance is not up to scratch.

Our passenger rail networks in NSW haven’t been sold off for now, but we are seeing the pressures of cost-cutting – cleaning and maintenance, station manager jobs, security measures have all been cut.

We’re seeing the introduction of driverless trains on the North West Rail Link and constant attacks on maintaining skills and a lack of investment in the skills of Train Drivers as we experienced on the South West Rail Link and the ongoing route knowledge disputes.

It falls to unions to fight for our members and also for the public interest when it comes to the quality of rail networks we all rely on.

As our British comrades reminded us, strong unions are essential for standing up to cost-cutting from employers – governments and companies alike.

Stay safe and have a great weekend.

Bob Hayden

Loco Division Secretary