Rail industry news (Australia, New Zealand)

RTBU appoints new National Secretary

The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) National Executive has appointed Alex Claassens as the union’s new National Secretary, effective from 29 June 2024, following the resignation of outgoing National Secretary Mark Diamond.

Claassens assumes the national role after serving as RTBU NSW Branch Secretary for the past 15 years, and as a working train driver for over four decades.

RTBU National President Victor Moore thanked Mark Diamond for his outstanding work in National Office.

“Mark Diamond began his time with the RTBU as our National Lawyer, and then became National Secretary in October 2019,” Moore said.

“Mark worked night and day through a truly difficult period, and his efforts have transformed our union.

“He led us through all of COVID and Coalition Federal Government attempts to thwart the union movement, before seeing us through a rapid period of change.”

RTBU members wish Mark all the best in his new role with Hall Payne Lawyers, where his depth of expertise can be used more broadly for the entire union movement.”

RTBU Victorian Branch Secretary Vik Sharma said Mark Diamond’s leadership had been characterised by his desire to drive change and create a stronger national union.

“Mark strengthened our campaigning and organising capabilities, bringing all branches and divisions together under one national strategic plan,” Sharma said.

“Furthermore, Mark spearheaded several projects which will make the RTBU of tomorrow a fundamentally different place from what it has been in the past.

“The RTBU is now more resilient, more focussed and more influential as a result of Mark’s leadership.”

Mark Diamond’s achievements as National Secretary include:

  • The RTBU’s acquisition of Training Ahead Australia – a Registered Training Organisation that is currently being converted into a Not-for-Profit organisation so rail workers across Australia have access to high-quality industry training;
  • The establishment of Rail Wallet – a new industry card for rail workers which will improve compliance and skills portability;
  • Successfully opposing the mandatory audio and video in-cab surveillance of train drivers;
  • Advocating for and securing a review of the Rail Safety National Law, which has just been finalised and approved by the Infrastructure and Transport Minister’s Meeting, and which makes a number of far-reaching recommendations to improve Australia’s rail safety regime;
  • Delivering operational improvements such as a new national membership system, and a quarterly national online member magazine;
  • Amalgamating two Western Australian-based branches into one unified branch, and implementing structural changes to the Tasmanian Branch to secure its long-term financial viability; and

Leading campaigns to grow rail manufacturing, secure the future of the rail freight sector and increase investment in public transport.

Mark Diamond said he had been privileged to lead the RTBU.

“Elected trade union officials are only the temporary custodians of roles that are bigger than any individual,” Diamond said.

“But having stewardship of our great union, during this period of our movement’s great and noble fight, has been an incredible honour.”