Rail, Aviation and Transport

Rail, Aviation and Transport

Sydney Trains Members Vote to Support of Industrial Action

- Thursday, March 01, 2018

ETU members have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action at Sydney Trains in the event that management’s proposed agreement is rejected at next week’s vote.

More than 50% of ETU members participated in the Protect Action Ballot. Up to 95% of those voting supported various forms of industrial action ranging from indefinite stoppages to work bans. This result will allow ETU members to participate in any future industrial campaign.

Over the past two weeks management has toured depots and workplaces to present its current offer. The proposal includes a number of items secured by ETU members in negotiations, including an improved contracting out clause that provides ETU members with direct representation on any future contracting out proposals. ETU action has also ensured trade relativities will be maintained within the pay structure with electrically-qualified staff recognised for our skills and training.

Voting on the proposed agreement will commence next Tuesday, 6 March. A result will be declared during the week commencing 19 March. In the event that the proposed agreement is voted down, the ETU, along with the Combined Rail Unions, is now in a position to proceed to industrial action in a campaign to further improve the offer.

Management’s current offer includes three annual pay increases of 3%, a one-off $1,000 bonus per employee and an expanded travel pass. The ETU encourages members to study the proposed agreement and vote either YES or NO, based on your considered assessment of the offer. Should you have any questions or want to discuss any element of the proposal please contact your workplace delegate or ETU Organiser Anthony O’Sullivan – 0429 429 234 / anthonyo@etunsw.com.au


- Thursday, February 08, 2018

Sydney Trains has tabled a ‘final’ EBA offer which will go to a postal ballot of ETU members and all rail employees from 5 March.

The ETU is consulting members for feedback on the proposed EBA. At this stage, the Combined Rail Unions, including the ETU, hold to our claim for annual pay rises of 4% per annum. While the offer below is the best presented so far in negotiations, it falls short of that benchmark.

Protected Action Ballot continues: please vote immediately

It remains very important that all ETU members vote in the current Protected Action Ballot. Members are strongly urged to vote YES to all options in that ballot. A successful ballot will ensure ETU members are able to take Protected Action, if required in the event workers reject the current EBA offer.

Summary of Sydney Trains ‘final’ offer

The key elements of the offer presented yesterday by Sydney Trains management to Combined Rail Unions include:

  • a three-year agreement with annual 3% pay rises
  • 3% from date of approval, 3% 12 months after approval and 3% 24 months after approval
  • a one-off $1,000 payment to each employee on approval of the agreement.

The offer extends Travel Passes for existing employees (including current employees with Gold Passes) to:

  • all metropolitan and outer metropolitan bus operations
  • Sydney Metro from Rouse Hill to Bankstown
  • CBD (including existing Inner West services) and SE light rail services.

Management claims that the combined value of the annual pay rises, the one-off payment and the extended Travel Pass is 4.06% per annum averaged over three years. The Combined Rail Unions are conducting independent research to test the veracity of that estimate.

The offer includes an improved Contractors Clause which establishes a separate Consultative Committee at which the ETU will be able to vet any proposed contracting out of electrical work.

Regarding the Master Roster, which affects ETU members in Fleet Maintenance, the offer provides ‘visibility of change, capped number of changes and minimum roster duration’.

Redeployment and redundancy provisions maintain 64 weeks paid redundancy, but remain in the deed outside the agreement.

There are improvements to the Facilitation Clause including access to a mediator if required.

Most existing conditions would be rolled over from the current EBA, however there are a number of other proposed changes in the new document which will be provided in full to all ETU members from mid-February.

Timeline for access to proposed EBA, voting and Roadshow

Key dates in the process from here:

  • EBA draft distributed from 12 February
  • all employees have access to that document from 23 February
  • Postal ballot opens 5 March
  • Ballot closes 20 March
  • Management Roadshow February-March.

We encourage ETU members to provide feedback on this offer via ETU organiser Anthony O’Sullivan anthonyo@etunsw.com.au 0429 429 234

In unity
Anthony O’Sullivan and Ben Lister
ETU Organisers

Combined Delegates Reject Managements Week Old Offer

- Monday, February 05, 2018

Last Thursday 1 February the Combined Rail Union delegates met to hear from management and consider an EBA offer, tabled on 17 January, that had already been rejected by the negotiating committee. At this meeting, more than 200 rail delegates from seven unions, including the ETU, unanimously rejected the offer, which included annual pay increases of 2.75%, a one-off $1,000 payment and an extended travel pass.

In a sign of good faith, the combined rail delegates agreed to reduce the pay claim from 6% to 4% per year and have advised management to go away and come back with an improved wages offer. The combined unions negotiating committee is meeting again today to resolve claims around domestic violence leave, redundancy deed, master roster issues and the facilitation clause.

A further EBA meeting with Sydney Trains management on Wednesday will continue to work around agreement wording.


In a further development, Sydney Trains management has blocked ETU depot meetings that were planned to commence this week. Sydney Trains management has advised the ETU that they will not facilitate paid meetings at this stage in negotiations.

As a result the ETU is considering before and after-hours depot meetings and a telephone townhall to discuss the EBA and Protected Action Ballot and to gather feedback from members.


ETU members should now be receiving their ballot papers for the Protected Action Ballot – IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THAT ALL ETU MEMBERS TAKE THE TIME TO VOTE AND RETURN YOUR BALLOT PAPER. We are asking members to VOTE YES to all questions. This will allow ETU members to join industrial action with other union members, should it be needed, in the future. Industrial action may not be required but the threat of industrial action will increase pressure on management to improve any future offer.

We will keep members informed of any developments. Please stay tuned for details of the out-of-hours depot meetings and telephone townhall which are likely to occur over the coming week.

A reminder to ensure your contact details are up-to-date – call the office on (02) 9267 4844 to check. Any other questions, contact organiser Anthony O’Sullivan anthonyo@etunsw.com.au or 0429 429 234.

In Unity,
Anthony O’Sullivan
ETU Organiser

Rail EBA Update - Delegates to Meet

- Tuesday, January 30, 2018

ETU delegates will join a Combined Rail Union meeting this Thursday where management plans to present the offer first tabled during negotiations last week and which ETU members have told the union they overwhelmingly reject.

The full delegates meeting marks a crossroads after the Fair Work Commission suspended all industrial action for six weeks. The outcome of the meeting will determine the next move in negotiations.

Rail delegates from seven unions will listen to management’s offer and provide feedback on whether the offer is considered good enough to go to a vote of almost 10,000 rail employees across Sydney and NSW Trains.

Negotiations will continue right up to Thursday’s delegate meeting, with the ETU team pushing to further improve the outcome for ETU members after there was a push last week to remove higher rates of pay for electrically qualified team leaders/work group leaders. The ETU successfully argued that electrically qualified team leaders/work group leaders should continue to receive higher rates of pay.

The key elements of management’s offer are:

  • Three-year agreement with annual pay rises of 2.75% per year
  • One-off $1,000 payment on approval of EBA
  • Current Travel Pass extended for existing employees to include metro and outer metro buses and the Sydney Metro between Rouse Hill and Bankstown
  • Improved contracting out clause negotiated by the ETU means a dedicated Consultative Committee, with union representation, will vet any future proposal to contract out electrical work
  • A review of classifications relating to infrastructure team leaders/work group leaders that may result in enhanced outcomes for electrical team leaders in the future PLUS the protection of existing pay rates for electrical trade team leaders/work group leaders
  • Redundancy to remain in Deed and not part of the agreement with notice periods to change.
  • Most other conditions rolled over from current agreement.

While our delegates consider the best way forward, two other matters need the attention of all ETU rail members…

Your voting papers for the ETU’s second Protected Action Ballot will arrive soon. Please ensure you vote ‘YES’ so that ETU members have the option of taking industrial action, if required.

Meet new rail organiser Anthony O’Sullivan and other ETU leaders at Sydney Trains depot meetings between 6-15 February. Stay tuned for confirmed schedule.

A reminder to ensure your contact details are up-to-date – call the office on (02) 9267 4844 to check. Any other questions, contact organiser Anthony O’Sullivan anthonyo@etunsw.com.au 0429 429 234

In Unity,

Rail EBA Update - Fair Work Decision

- Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Fair Work Commission today ordered a six-week suspension on protected industrial action by rail workers seeking improved wages and conditions.

The orders mean the RTBU and Professionals Australia must lift overtime bans and cancel plans for a strike on Monday 29 January.

The decision demonstrates the unfair restrictions placed on workers and their unions under current enterprise bargaining rules.

Unions can negotiate for months and conduct a protected action ballot and yet still be prevented from taking action to protect and improve conditions.

This lack of fairness underlines why the ETU will strongly support the ACTU’s Change the Rules campaign in 2018.

Rail negotiations continued today with the ETU team prominent is pursuing the best possible outcome for our members. Progress was made towards agreement on several non-monetary issues.

The six-week ban on industrial action places the ETU’s second Protected Action Ballot firmly on the agenda. If this ballot gets up, ETU members will be able to join any future action.

For that reason, it is essential that all our rail members attend the depot meetings scheduled for February. The full schedule will be released early next week. Secondly, we need all rail members to participate in the PAB ballot for which voting papers will arrive from around 5 February.

A reminder to ensure your contact details are up-to-date – call the office on (02) 9267 4844 to check. Any other questions, contact organiser Anthony O’Sullivan anthonyo@etunsw.com.au 0429 429 234.

In Unity,

Rail EBA Negotiation Update

- Thursday, January 25, 2018


We resume EBA negotiations with Sydney Trains this morning. ETU organiser Anthony O’Sullivan (Ben Lister is currently on leave) and ETU President Glen Potter continue to do a great job at the bargaining table – often under trying circumstances.

We conducted an SMS poll of our rail members on Tuesday and the message came back loud and clear: most ETU members want Sydney Trains to improve its offer from the current 2.75 per cent per year. The ETU will vigorously pursue an improved offer in all meetings.

Unfortunately the Protected Action Ballot of ETU members conducted in late-December/early January did not meet the 50 per cent participation rate required to authorise industrial action. This means unfortunately we cannot support the RTBU in their current overtime ban or in Monday’s planned stoppage. But of those ETU members who did vote in the Ballot, a big majority voted ‘YES’ to all proposed actions.

We are now re-balloting all rail members with voting scheduled from early February. Please ensure we have your current contact details so you can participate. I urge you to vote ‘YES’. ETU leaders will run depot meetings to coincide with the ballot – please attend and have your say.

Stay tuned for further updates. We will inform members of any news emerging from negotiations later today.

For further information, contact organiser Anthony O’Sullivan on 0429 429 234 or anthonyo@etunsw.com.au alternatively talk to your workplace delegate. To update your details for the Ballot please contact the ETU office on 02 9267 4844.

In Unity,

ETU rail members to vote in fresh protected action ballot

- Wednesday, January 17, 2018

ETU members employed by Sydney Trains will decide on protected industrial action in a second ballot, likely to open in early February, 2018, subject to Fair Work approval.

This follows a poor turnout in the first Protected Action Ballot held between 8 December 2017 and 10 January 2018. The ETU was one of several rail unions that did not achieve the 50 per cent member participation required for a valid outcome under Fair Work Commission rules.

The first ballot was disrupted by Christmas, New Year and school holidays, those members who did vote gave overwhelming support for protected industrial action, if such action is required.

The ETU supports a second Protected Action Ballot to permit industrial action if Sydney Trains fails to improve its offer in long-running enterprise agreement negotiations.

The major problems with Sydney Trains current offer are:

  • an inadequate pay offer of just 2.5 per cent per year
  • a threat to destroy relativities for electrical tradespeople who lead teams or work groups in Infrastructure Works by paying the same rates to all without recognising electrical skills and qualifications
  • job security is watered down because protection against forced redundancies is not included with the enterprise agreement.

The ETU made application to Fair Work for a second ballot and orders are expected to be issued in the coming days.

To ensure this fresh ballot produces a valid outcome and reflects rail members’ intentions, ETU members are urged to:

  • immediately update contact details by phoning the ETU office on (02) 9267 4844, or emailing etunsw@etunsw.com.au A number of members did not receive voting papers for the first ballot. This is likely because contact details held by the ETU and Sydney Trains did not match.
  • attend ETU depot meetings across the network which will be held to coincide with the ballot. Stay tuned for further details
  • make sure you vote YES by returning your completed ballot paper and encourage other ETU members to do the same.

For more information, check www.etunsw.com.au and follow us on Facebook @ETUnsw or contact organiser Anthony O’Sullivan anthonyo@etunsw.com.au  0429 429 234. 


Peter Moss - Friday, December 15, 2017

Frustrated rail workers are voting on protected industrial action after six months of fruitless negotiations.

Ballot papers hit letterboxes this week in a crucial poll that could open a new front in the battle for a fair deal at Sydney Trains.

At stake are future pay rises, job security and safety concerns around the uncontrolled spread of contractors.

ETU organiser Ben Lister urged ETU members to vote ‘yes’ to all action options on the ballot paper.

‘We need a very strong yes vote to make management sit up and take notice. We’ve talked and talked but Sydney Trains has not listened. This ballot is our members’ opportunity to put a rocket up them,’ said Ben.

‘I urge all ETU members to complete and return their voting papers without delay. Do it today.’

Management has refused to release productivity data that could underpin the union case for substantial wage rises.

‘What has Sydney Trains got to hide? We know ETU members are massively more productive. Our people are working harder than ever before and new technology has supercharged our efficiency,’ said Ben.

An ETU survey found that reasonable wage rises, job security and no loss of conditions are the key priorities for rail members.

Bargaining is under the auspices of the Combined Rail Unions which include the ETU, RTBU and five other unions.

High Voltage Overhead Wiring Hits Train After Contractor Failed to Tighten Bolts

Peter Moss - Wednesday, December 06, 2017
A section of high voltage overhead wiring fell on a train after contract workers employed by Novo Rail failed to tighten bolts.

The incident at Clarendon, near Richmond, forced Sydney Trains to issue an urgent safety action notice on 9 November.

The notice ordered overhead wiring staff and contractors to tighten bolts and perform quality assurance checks in future.

The safety failure is just the latest involving infrastructure work carried out on the Sydney rail network by the private sector Novo Rail Alliance.

In September, Novo Rail was busted using unqualified employees to perform dangerous high-voltage linework.

On that occasion six Novo Rail workers were ordered off the job at North Strathfield by a Sydney Trains Safety Inspector.

The ETU has received other reports of sloppy, potentially dangerous work by contractors including recently at Glenfield.

ETU President and rail delegate Glen Potter called on Sydney Trains to revise arrangements with Novo Rail with the aim of bring infrastructure work back in-house ‘at the first opportunity’.

‘We are thankful that to this point there has not been a serious injury or fatality,’ said Glen. ‘But these are not isolated incidents.

‘We see a clear pattern of risk involving contractors operating at night and self-checking their work. This latest breach confirms the need for urgent action from Sydney Trains.

‘The private sector’s drive to maximise profits is not compatible with the need to prioritise safety for rail workers and the travelling public.’

Novo Rail is a consortium of contractors working in partnership with NSW Government agency Transport for NSW.

The Novo consortium is made up of contracting giants Aurecon, Laing O’Rourke and RCR Infrastructure O’Donnell Griffin.

Tell Management to get Real on a Fair Deal

- Friday, November 24, 2017

Your negotiating team received notice from Sydney and NSW Trains management last night that they had made an application to deal with a bargaining dispute in the Fair Work Commission.

Your negotiating team have heard from members loud and clear - you want management to get real on a fair deal. That is the message that will be put to them in the Commission. Management needs to stop wasting time on dubious legal arguments with no end goal and instead put that money into a fair pay rise for you and your workmates who are doing more work with less staff.

Your protected action ballot application and your good faith bargaining orders application are still going ahead. The purpose of both of these applications is to get specific orders from the Commission to fix some of the issues in bargaining. We will keep you updated on the progress of these issues.

It is now more critical than ever for you to make sure that your details on file with management and with the union are the same.