Passenger Rail, Workforce, Certification & Training

Collins faces union as EA dispute drags on

Union delegates have reportedly “lambasted” Sydney Trains boss Howard Collins during a two-hour meeting to outline their latest employment offer, as sides remain deadlocked over the terms of the deal which will cover drivers and staff for the next four years.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW boss Alex Claassens says his members are disappointed with the offer they were presented with on February 1, saying it was unchanged from the offer they rejected a week earlier.

“This morning we were all hopeful that Sydney and NSW Trains would present an offer today which was an improvement on the offer last week. That didn’t happen,” Claassens said on Thursday.

“With six weeks to reach an offer, its surprising that we’d waste time re-discussing an offer that was already rejected last week.”

Claassens said the offer fails to provide workers with “fair rostering options and conditions around job security”.

There’s also the issue of pay; the sides are reportedly several percentage points apart on an annual salary bump for workers throughout the four-year deal.

Claassens said he was glad to see Collins face the union delegates to discuss the deal, but told ABC the meeting wasn’t a good one for the Sydney Trains chief executive.

“The delegates in that room loudly and clearly told Howard Collins that offer is nowhere near enough,” Claassens was quoted by ABC. “Poor old Howard spent two hours getting lambasted by my delegates today.

“The message has been sent loud and clear: They are very, very annoyed that he has come here and presented the same package. I’m sure Howard left today a bit brow-beaten.”

Industrial action by the union has been halted for the next five weeks after the Fair Work Commission barred a full-day strike proposed for Monday, January 29. The Commission ruled the strike would be too harmful to Sydney’s economy, after state lawyers argued it would cost as much as $90 million.