Sydney sardines: Overtime ban congests public transport

sydney trains strike
Sydney Trains chaos. Photo: LB

Commuters on Thursday were given the sardine treatment as early as 7am due to the overtime ban that the train workers have enforced. The industrial action put in motion by the union, cancelled more than 1,000 train services across the city.

The sudden cancellation has put more than 500 buses on standby call to deal with the overcrowding of the trains. This comes just a few days after more than a dozen people were injured when a train crashed at Richmond train station.

During peak hour trains usually run every 8 minutes but the timetable was replaced with the weekend schedule where it was increased to 15 minutes. Some commuters have stated that it was only a slightly slower than normal, while others claimed that they had experienced significant delays and overcrowded carriages.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has been negotiating with Sydney trains and the New South Wales Government for nearly a fortnight now.

The Government has taken legal action to prevent the 24-hour strike planned for Monday. The full-day railway shutdown has been pushed due to a rejected pay increase offer. The 2.75 per cent increase was deemed fair and appropriate by the Transport Minister Andrew Constance and said that the strike should not go ahead.

Mr Constance stated that the union should put the people of New South Wales first, take the offer and offer the award of their efforts to the 9,500 employees.

However, the workers had conducted a poll via text message where the results were a solid rejection for the offer. The 2.75 per cent increase was less than half of what the workers are asking.

While many commuters are complaining and displeased with what has occurred today, many are in favour of the industrial action to ensure fair pay for the workers.

The secretary for The Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Alex Claassens, stated that the point of the overtime ban was giving people the days off they deserve.

It’s normal for some businesses to implement overtime. However, if you’re running a business solely on overtime, like what is happening with our train services, then we have a real problem in how we conduct the business.

Further negotiations are reported to continue today at 11am so that a decision can be made prior to the total shut down of the services.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance is scheduled to join the 11am meeting to aid in a resolution to the rail conflict.

Luke Foley, the leader for the labour party stated that it was time that New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian to step in, who has been absent throughout the whole ordeal.

Whether the trains will be resumed on Monday or not will ultimately be decided at today’s negotiations.