NSW Government Attacks Rail Unions Over $2 Billion Train Fleet Shutdown

“The refusal of union leaders to run these trains is further evidence of their collusion with NSW Labour. Commuter traffic and rail staff suffer as a result.”

The failure of the negotiations comes after the entire rail network was shut down on February 21, leading to days of transport chaos for commuters.

RTBU secretary Alex Claassens said that union actions were an option, but that the union would not strike in a rush.

“Just because one minister wants to blow up the world doesn’t mean we’re going to be stupid about this,” he said. “They play games.”

He accused the government of trying to lure his union into further union action.

“If Damien Tudehope continues to wave the red flag at us and try to force us into position, we will have real problems,” he said.

Claassens added that he had contacted Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet and claimed he was still on good terms with Transport Minister David Elliott, who he said had been caught off guard by Tudehope’s move.

Elliott – who was unable to attend the government’s prompt announcement on Thursday – was asked by Labor in parliament if he knew that Transport NSW had told union officials earlier on Thursday that the department would continue to work on solving problems with the fleet.

“An operating model closely aligned with the accredited Waratah fleet is being proposed by NSW TrainLink,” said the letter to union boss Alex Claassens, dated May 12.

“If approved by the government, it is proposed to adopt a preliminary model for a limited number of sets to be in the tax office by December 2022, while changing the design for the entire fleet (changed driver screens and door controls to more closely aligned with Waratah sets),’ the letter said.

Elliott told parliament that “he was just a suburban father trying to right some mistakes” and that the government’s proposal should be submitted to the cabinet’s spending review committee, which Elliott is not on.

Labor transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said it was “another attempt by the government to cause chaos across our train network for their own political ends.”

“This morning, the deputy secretary of the ministry sent a letter to the RTBU stating that they are continuing cooperation talks on an interim operational model for the new intercity fleet,” Haylen said.

“By noon, Damien Tudehope and Matt Kean blew up those negotiations.”

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