Rail, Aviation and Transport

Rail, Aviation and Transport

CRU Presses Key Member Issues With Management

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 12, 2014
  • Since bargaining officially began as per the 2010 EA (Clause 7) in December 2013, the Combined Rail Unions (CRU) have advised management in writing and at each meeting of the requirement for one agreement to replace current EA which could contain two sections, covering Sydney Trains (including TCS and residual RailCorp) and NSW Train along with the functional arrangements for each classification / grade / group as per the current agreement.  The CRU have also made it clear that all the proposed changes / reforms must be tabled and the ‘Core’ conditions of the Single Agreement must be finalised before negotiation on the functional arrangements commence.
  • On Tuesday, 4 February 2014, the rail entities indicated they were prepared to look at ‘one Agreement’ as outlined by the CRU, and were prepared to put it to their “stakeholders”.
  • On Thursday, 5 February 2014, the rail entities tabled a ‘Draft and Without Prejudice’ document titled ‘Facilitative Clauses’.  The RE indicated that before they could approach their “stakeholders” they would need the CRUs response to the document, to ‘reassure’ their “stakeholders” that a single Agreement would be possible from their point of view.
  • On Tuesday, 11 February 2014 the CRU tabled a written response to the matters discussed on Thursday, 5 February 2014.  The key matters detailed in the CRU correspondence were as follows:
    • Could the rail entities confirm whether agreement to a single EA depended contingent on agreement to all the matters contained in the document tabled (“Discussion of Facilitation Clauses in EA”);
    • If the response was no then the CRU were happy to discuss the structure of the single agreement and to continue bargaining;
    • However if agreeing a single agreement was dependent on negotiating a facilitative and other relevant clauses such as consultation provisions, dispute settlement procedure, etc. then the appropriate application would be made to the Fair Work Commission for Scope Orders.  (A scope order is an order from the Fair Work Commission that the agreement being negotiated covers all employees i.e. in our context Sydney Trains (including TCS and residual RailCorp), NSW Trains, residual RailCorp and TCS).
  • Discussion on the 11 February 2013 revolved around the absolute requirement on behalf of the CRU membership that unless would could agree to one Agreement, it was impossible to commence detailed discussions, and equally importantly, unless all matters involving ‘reform’ and change going forward were tabled, there could be no meaningful comprehension or understanding about the meaning, purpose and impact of the ‘Draft and Without Prejudice’ Facilitative Clause document.
  • The CRU have requested a written response to our letter dated 11 February 2014, and have reconfirmed to the CREs that any further discussion about matter outside the issue of one Agreement will not be possible until we have settled the issue of one EA to cover all employees currently covered by the 2010 EA.

Workers Comp Cuts Hurting Injured Workers

Paul Lister - Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New workers compensation laws are making life tough for injured workers, according to a new study from Macquarie University, funded by unions. Yet Andrew Constance, the NSW Finance Minister argues overall his scheme is helping people get back to work and delivering savings.

ABC 7.30 covered this story last week highlighting just how these changes are hurting ordinary people - view the ABC 7.30 report here.

On 1 January, 2014 injured workers who used to have their medical expenses covered by the workers compensation system were relegated to the scrap heap after changes by the O'Farrell Government took effect.

Injured workers who were waiting for medical procedures of were continuing to incur medical treatment costs were told by private insurers they were no longer covered leaving these people, many retiree's and pensioners, without any options and facing financial and personal hardship.

Unions NSW commissioned a report through Macquarie University to look at the impact of the O'Farrell Government's changes and the negative impact they are having on vulnerable injured workers. The full report can be read here.

Rail Defibrillator Update

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Following the ETU's conference last year where delegates resolved to commence a campaign to increase the availability of defibrillators on worksites and a subsequent research paper that proved the effectiveness of defibrillators, the ETU approached Sydney Trains seeking a rollout of this life saving technology across the rail network.

Following this request Sydney Trains committed to review this situation and we can provide the following update for members in the rail sector.

Most of the hard work has been completed and plans are progressing to have these rolled out in the coming months.

Current status

• Project Manager has with stakeholders to gather data on the number of workgroups and locations that would benefit in the availability of a defibrillator. This has identified a large number required if Sydney trains are to cater for the individual workgroups (approx. 95).

Next steps

Management will...

• Review numbers to identify locations and workgroups and the best way to manage the availability including portable vs fixed units.
• Finalise numbers required
• Meet with Health Services to determine preferred financial approach (lease vs purchase)
• Business case submitted for approval
• Deploy Defibrillators
• Roll out training for relevant personnel.

The ETU will continue to push for these safety devices to be rolled out but Sydney Trains have taken this request seriously and are progressing towards a rollout, we will keep you updated on the progress and outcome.

Combined Rail Unions Fight for One Agreement

Paul Lister - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Today, Wednesday 4 February 2014 the Combined Rail Unions (CRU) again told management the headline issues for members identified at the delegates conference and at workplace meetings in December 2013 were:

(i) a single Agreement covering all employees of Sydney Trains, NSW Trains and RailCorp (including employees assigned to Transport Cleaning Services);

(ii) the requirement that the rail entities table all reforms and the savings made from the current and any future reforms. The CRU wants the rail entities to confirm how much they have saved and what wage rises should be given to employees as a result of current and future workplace reforms;

(iii) The CRU has also requested that significant workplace changes and savings from the change proposals such as Infrastructure Facilities Maintenance, the Ticket Sales Staff Review, changes to the Customer Environment Information and Intelligence Projects, Transport Cleaning Services and Performance Divisions should be included in bargaining. Changes not identified in the current EA should go towards future wage increases;

(iv) no reduction in the conditions of employment or rates of pay of employees and that any future Agreement must contain the current rights and conditions applicable to all the employees covered by the Agreement contained within the current EA;

(v) the entities and employees covered by these negotiations need to be clearly identified and included in any new agreement; and

The CRU also requested the rail entities to release key delegates to attend bargaining meetings. The rail entities have resisted this in the short term, however the CRU have stated delegates must be in attendance at the meeting to ensure it is an open and transparent process.

The CRU put the following proposal to the rail entities:

(i) a single agreement with a core common conditions section covering all employees;

(ii) within the document two sections covering:

(a) Sydney Trains (including coverage of TCS and residual RailCorp);

(b) NSW Trains

(iii) a facilitative clause.

The rail entities have taken the proposal back to their “stakeholders” and will meet with the CRU again on Thursday to respond.

QANTAS: Lowery Hits ‘GO’ On Offshoring

Paul Lister - Friday, January 24, 2014

Since its first flight in 1971, Qantas Engineers have maintained the B747 to the highest of standards. As of
Tuesday - this will no longer be the case.

In November 2013, the company announced that the Avalon facility would no longer undertake the base
maintenance of the 17 remaining B747 jets. Following that decision, a discussion was initiated about where the maintenance would go to next.

The Alliance Unions pursued vigorously to have the base maintenance of the B747 fleet undertaken in either Sydney or Brisbane. In our view, this would strengthen existing employment numbers and potentially create additional employment over the next eight years, until the last jets retire from the fleet in 2021.

It’s important to note that it was abundantly clear that your management did not have the appetite for either option from the outset. Our last meeting with the company took place on December 18 in the Sydney training center. At this meeting, we requested that information be provided to show where the gaps are in the skills required to undertake this work, and indeed if any exist. We also asked what capex is required to modify existing infrastructure to perform the maintenance.

Your management refused to produce this information.

Further, we requested that the company look into what modifications could be made to the existing fleet
maintenance schedule to accommodate the B747 maintenance – a task that is routinely done. Again, they
refused this request.

On Tuesday afternoon, Tony Lowery wrote to the Alliance Unions to say that the Sydney, Brisbane and
Melbourne options were too hard and that he has hit the offshore button.

This decision is lazy and shortsighted.

The Alliance Unions have made it known publicly that this is the wrong decision – and we will continue to
do so. If you share this view, you too should make your voice heard.


As you know, the company has nearly completed the roll out of the EOI’s for redundancies across the
engineering workforce. This is in an attempt to open up positions for those soon-to-be-redundant Qantas
workers finishing up at Avalon.

The EOI is not an opportunity for the company to release more engineering jobs! The Alliance believes a
worker should only be released if that position is to be backfilled by someone else.

We don’t need your managers offloading any further jobs on top of what they already have. This position
will be reiterated strongly to your management in the coming days.

If you would like to discuss these matters further,
please don’t hesitate to contact your local delegate in the first instance, or
your State and National Officials.

Working in Heat

Paul Lister - Thursday, January 16, 2014

Weather forecasters are predicting that parts of NSW and the ACT will experience high temperatures over the coming days.

All members should be aware of the dangers of heat stress and be familiar with the unions working in heat policy (2003), your employer’s heat management policy or the Workcover code of practice for managing the work environment.

In summary ETU members should observe the following as a minimum but individuals should take appropriate action depending on your individual health and work situation: 


Continuous work with normal breaks.


Minimum 15-minute break per hour worked.


Mandatory - stop work - do individual (Personal) risk assessment and determine if work is to continue, that work undertaken to be limited to fault and emergency or finalisation of current work (No New Work).


Click on the links provided for a full copy of the ETU Working in Heat (2003) policyWorkcover NSW’s website with details about working in heat and the Bureau of Meteorology for current weather forecasts (click on the map for your local forecast).

Members should exercise extreme care as temperatures rise. If you have any questions please contact your workplace delegate or ETU organiser.

Harvard to deliver strong leadership for ETU

Paul Lister - Tuesday, January 14, 2014

ETU Secretary Steve Butler last week left for Boston, Massachusetts where he will attend the Harvard Trade Union Program as a part of the Unions NSW delegation. The course, sponsored by Unions NSW, is aimed at developing union leaders to deal with the ever changing environment that’s unions and their members face.

The course, Preparing Leadership for the Challenges of the Future, being run between January 6 and February 14 is open to about 40 union leaders from around the globe and helps to develop managerial and organisational skills for union leaders when dealing with the complex nature of union governance and administration.

Some of the areas of study covered include: Strategic Planning for Unions, Leadership and Organisational Change, Union Governance and Administration, Lessons from Labour History, Dispute Resolution and Arbitration, Public Sector Labour Relations, Labour Law, New Tactics for Union Organising, the Global Economy and Unions and New Technology.

While Steve is away Assistant Secretaries Neville Betts and Paul Sinclair will oversee the day to day running of the NSW Branch.

National Licensing Aborted

Paul Lister - Friday, December 20, 2013

COAG have announced that they have officially aborted the National Licensing model covering electrical and other trade based licenses. 

Following the outcome of extensive State-based consultation, the majority of States decided not to pursue the proposed National Occupational Licensing Scheme reform. Most jurisdictions identified a number of concerns with the proposed NOLS model and potential costs. States instead decided to investigate approaches that would increase labour mobility and deliver net benefits for businesses and governments.
To this end, States agreed to work together via the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) to develop alternative options for minimising licensing impediments to improving labour mobility and to manage the orderly disestablishment of the National Occupation Licensing Authority from early 2014.

Click here to read the full COAG statement.

Click here to read the letter from NSW Fair trading to the ETU NSW.

Management told to come clean on reforms & bargain in good faith

Paul Lister - Thursday, December 05, 2013

Last week the Combined Rail Unions (CRU) received advice regarding an intention by Sydney Trains to start another round of reform and engage in other measures to reduce employment security for members.

The CRU sought urgent discussions regarding this matter and received a briefing at 12:00noon on Monday, 2 December 2013 at which these rumours were confirmed.

At 2:00pm the CRU met with the Rail Entities regarding the new enterprise agreement (EA). At the meeting the CRU told management that confirmation of these rumours affecting a number of areas meant the delegates who attended the Delegates Conference on 26 November 2013 had been misled.

At the CRU Delegates Conference Mr Howard Collins and Mr Rob Mason were invited to provide their views on ALL the matters they wished to canvas as issues during the negotiations for a replacement EA. As a result of the failure to provide this information, in particular failing to respond to at least 3 explicit questions on the topic of privatisation and further reform, the CRU advised management representatives yesterday that they required a signed letter from the Minister for Transport confirming all the issues and areas of reform had now been provided to the CRU.

At the first meeting with NSW / Sydney Trains representatives the CRU were advised there would need to be some recognition of the cost savings made by the current reform process as part of the final wage outcome for the replacement EA. This has not been put on the table to date as part of these negotiations.

As a result the CRU are currently unable to accurately report to members or to fully consider their position and finalise their log of claims until all the requested detail has been supplied by the Rail Entities.

The CRU representatives will not be placed in a position of providing only “half the information” to members when the information will form the basis on which the members will consider a log of claims.

The CRU is committed to bargaining in good faith to achieve a new agreement, however, both parties must demonstrate good faith if any real progress is to be made.

Union Workplace EBA Meetings.

The CRU will hold workplace meetings to report on the outcome of the Delegates Conference including matters raised by delegates for consideration of members.

A timetable of dates, times and locations of meetings will be circulated to members later in the week.

Rail delegates confirm way forward

Paul Lister - Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Today over 200 Combined Rail Union (CRU) delegates met to hear reports from union organisers and to determine a way forward for a new agreement covering all NSW rail passenger workers.

Between 12:00noon and 1:00pm Sydney Trains and NSW Trains CEOs and Les Wielinga outlined the Government’s policy and their approach to implementing a workplace with increased “flexible work practices” and the removal of what they termed “conditions more suitable to 1938”.

The rail entities also advised they were seeking 5 agreements to replace the current agreement including: Sydney Trains EA – all employees other than drivers, guards and IWs (Up to $131, 838); Sydney Trains (Train Crew) EA – Drivers & Guards; Sydney Trains (Infrastructure) EA (Up to $91, 575); NSW Trains EA and Transport Cleaning Services EA.

A series of questions were asked by the delegates regarding the vision and in particular on plans to “franchise/privatise” large sections of current rail activities.  Delegates were not satisfied with the answers provided by management.

A briefing on a new CRU website where information relevant to the upcoming negotiations and campaign will be accessible to members and delegates was presented to the meetings.

Employer Correspondence Tabled at Meeting

Correspondence received from Sydney Trains and tabled at the meeting confirmed the employers will post “Notices of Employee Representational Rights” on noticeboards on Wednesday, 26 November 2013.  The notice contains information about the right of an employee to appoint a bargaining representative for the upcoming negotiations.  For union members the default bargaining representative is their union.

The correspondence received from the rail entities regarding the “Notices of Employee Representational Rights” states:

“We [the rail entities] understand that we have been in discussions with unions about the approach to bargaining, but have not yet commenced negotiations….[and]…The issue of Notices, in compliance with the Act, signifies the Employer’s willingness to commence bargaining but does not require that Unions or employee representatives be prepared to commence negotiations at that date. The issues, approach and schedule for negotiations may be subsequently developed and agreed”.

Campaigning from Here

The union delegates carried the following attached resolution.  This resolution now must be endorsed at meetings of members across the network.  The CRU is now organising meetings both in workplaces and accessible venues which will be conducted over the coming weeks and concluding prior to Christmas.  Once the members have endorsed the way forward for wages, conditions and rights at work the CRU will seek a formal meeting with the rail entities and advise of the members own vision and claims.


This meeting of Combined Rail Union Delegates rejects the ‘privatisation by stealth’ agenda adopted by the NSW government.

Privatisation of NSW passenger rail services will shift costs onto passengers, profits to shareholders and risks onto NSW taxpayers.

Current mismanagement of rail passenger operations and the network it relies on has resulted in:

  1. Less service for thousands of commuters;
  2. Millions of dollars wasted on ‘marketing’, logos and branding efforts;
  3. Thousands of workers made redundant and an irreplaceable store of corporate knowledge  ‘lost’ to the rail entities-to the detriment of safety as well as efficiency and effectiveness;
  4. The external recruitment and expansion of new layers of senior management who have no working knowledge or experience in making rail services run safely or effectively;
  5. On train and Station security  severely compromised to the detriment of safety for the public and the rail workforce; and
  6. Hiring contractors to perform work at many times the cost of redundant employees.

The people of NSW deserve better.

NSW Rail passenger stakeholders deserve improved safety, better services and respect from government and senior rail management.


  1. Structure and Terms of Replacement Agreement for 2010 RailCorp Enterprise Agreement:

(a) A single agreement covering all employees currently covered by the existing RC EA 2010 is the policy position of the Combined Rail Unions (CRU);

(b) To ensure this outcome, this meeting of CRU delegates authorises an Application  to Fair Work Australia (FWA) for a Determination that employees of the Rail entities support a single enterprise Agreement to replace the existing RC EA 2010; and

(c) No negotiations covering arrangements for Sections/Grades/Entities/Occupations and the like will commence unless and until resolution of the matter of a single Agreement is finalised


  1. The Conditions of employment and functional arrangements contained in the current Agreement are maintained, unless otherwise improved.
  2. An increase of 4.5% applied to wages and allowances, per annum each year for the next four years.
  3. Payment of Workers Compensation journey cover for all employees covered by successor Agreement or Agreements to RC EA 2010.
  4. The incorporation of all relevant employee policies into the replacement Agreement.
  5. Equal allowances as between Wages and Salaried station employees.
  6. No outsourcing of work during the life of the Agreement.