Rail Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens said the protected industrial action had been deliberately designed to ensure services could continue to run and described the operators’ decision to shut the lines down as a “disgraceful response”.
“There is absolutely no reason for the Illawarra line to be shut down on Wednesday. The protected industrial action being taken by rail workers will, by design, impact very few workers at any one time,” he said on Monday.
A Transport for NSW spokesperson said the operators planned to provide limited rail services on the lines during the industrial action, but the Rail Tram and Bus Union was “unable to provide guarantees about staffing and operational arrangements”.
“We are continuing to work with the RTBU to develop a plan for live running of a possible hourly, limited stop train service on the T4 and South Coast line on Wednesday, but that will be dependent on the number of trains that are available and staff that are willing to work during the stop work period,” they said.
The NSW government suffered an embarrassing defeat early last month in its efforts to stop unions from taking industrial action across Sydney’s rail network.
The Fair Work Commission dismissed the government’s bid to suspend industrial action for 10 weeks, rejecting “inexplicable” claims that it was harming the state’s economy.
The rail union wants the government to sign a deed guaranteeing that it will modify the new intercity train fleet at a cost of $264 million to address safety concerns, before completing negotiations over a new pay deal. However, the government wants both the train fleet modifications and a new enterprise agreement completed together.
With Matt O’Sullivan
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