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Melbourne's Train Network Is Set to Be Affected by a Four-Hour Strike

After plans to keep passenger gates open for two consecutive Mondays were quashed by the courts, staff will now walk off the job.
By Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
August 10, 2019
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Melbourne's Train Network Is Set to Be Affected by a Four-Hour Strike

After plans to keep passenger gates open for two consecutive Mondays were quashed by the courts, staff will now walk off the job.
By Libby Curran and Sarah Ward
August 10, 2019
  shares

UPDATE: MONDAY, AUGUST 12 — The RTBU announced last night, Sunday, August 11, that after "construction conversations" with Metro Trains, it would not be proceeding with its planned industrial action between August 12–19. Instead, it'll be "work as usual" from today onwards as the union continues to negotiate a new agreement. The four-hour stoppage on Tuesday, August 27, however, is still on the table — we'll let you know if that changes.

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If your daily commute involves catching the train, you're in for a disrupted day on Tuesday, August 27. After discussing the matter for months, the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) will go on strike — although, while a 48-hour walk-off had been proposed, its members will only stop work for four hours.

All services will be affected between 10am–2pm. The stoppage will occur between hectic peak-hour periods; however it's reasonable to expect disruptions both before and after the scheduled period as a flow-on effect.

The move comes after an eventful week, with the RTBU originally stating that its members would keep ticket barriers open all day on both August 12 and 19 — effectively giving Melburnians two days of free travel. Then, on Friday, August 9, the Federal Court of Australia ruled in favour of an injunction filed by Metro Trains, causing the RBTU to cancel that part of its initial plans.

At the same time, the new stoppage was announced, involving not only drivers but commuter-facing employees as well. Speaking to The Age, the RBTU Victorian Branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said that the strike was in response to Metro's decision to dock the pay of any workers involved in the union's upcoming actions, and not a reaction to the Federal Court decision.

#UnitedWeStand #RTBU

Posted by RTBU Victoria on Thursday, 8 August 2019

Other plans for the period between August 12–19 remain in effect. RBTU staff still won't be checking Myki cards on both August 12 and 19, although the barriers will remain closed and require a swipe to pass through. Commuter-facing employees will also scrap their uniforms indefinitely from August 12, too, and workers will refuse to participate in any training for Melbourne's soon-to-launch high-capacity trains between August 12–18. Between these dates, drivers will also refuse to operate any train that doesn't have fully operational public address systems and passenger emergency intercoms. And there'll be no skipping stations, alternate services running, or announcements by drivers to alert when their trains are running late.

The union, which supports over 35,000 members Australia wide, has seen months of failed negotiations with Metro Trains, while trying to secure a new enterprise agreement, cut a new wage deal and call for improved working conditions. "This industrial action is aimed at Metro's hip pocket, not the travelling public," explained Grigorovitch in a statement.

With negotiations still under way, it's possible no strike will go ahead, though only if Metro and the RTBU reach a satisfiable agreement in time.

Melburnians also look set to endure tram disruptions in the near future, as part of a separate set of failed negotiations with Yarra Trams. RBTU members have voted for industrial action across the tram network, including a strike of up to 48 hours. There's no word yet as to when the latter may happen, although it's expected within the next 30 days.

Image: Josie Withers for Visit Victoria

Published on August 10, 2019 by Libby Curran

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