‘Long way to go’ in Sydney rail fight, as train delays disrupt commuters

The NSW rail union says there is a “long way to go” in its fight with the state government as it calls for a signed legal document confirming that its safety demands will be met over a new Korean-made Intercity fleet.

The RTBU is locked in a long-running stoush with the government over the controversial fleet, arguing the Perrottet administration has refused to sign a deal with the union that locks in fixes to safety issues raised by drivers.

As part of the fight, the union is taking industrial action on Friday, taking out 70 per cent of Sydney’s rail capacity, causing major delays for commuters.

“It’s going to be a very messy day. It’ll be a weekend timetable with other trains taken out of it, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union state secretary, Alex Claassens, disse.

Interviewed on ABC television on Friday morning, Claassens said concrete action was needed from the government before the union moved on its industrial campaign.

While the government has signalled it could be prepared to spend $264 million to modify the fleet, the union is accusing it of stonewalling on signing a written deal.

Claasens said union action was “going to continue to escalate until such time as we have got a signed deed in our hand”.

“We can then go back to the negotiating table to do our conditions and our wages which we haven’t even talked about yet,” Claasens told ABC television.

"(We) have had no conversations about those wages at allThere is a long way to go yet.”

The union argues that a written document is needed after previous government offers on the fleet were followed by backflips due to internal politics.

During a meeting with the government on Thursday, elements of the modification offer were taken off the table, concerning union members that another government backtrack loomed, the union has said.

“My members will not listen to the ‘trust me’ moment anymore, we need to see a document,” Claasens said.

Protected industrial action on Friday has drivers refusing to operate foreign or privately made trains, meaning 30 per cent of Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink services will operate on a weekend timetable.

Sydney commuters have been advised to expect significant train delays and cancellations.

Il ministro dei trasporti del NSW, David Elliott, has been contacted for comment.

Elliott said on Thursday the government had offered railway workers $3,000 bonuses to return to work, which the union has described as “bribes”.

The industrial action comes after earlier strikes this week by nurses and teachers in NSW.

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