Residents of Melbourne are being cautioned to prepare for future transit disruptions following actions taken by a significant labour union to immobilize the city’s railway network, as part of their ongoing wage disagreements.
Recently, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) informed Melbourne’s Metro Trains that its members had decided to orchestrate a pair of four-hour work stoppages on October 6 and 11, which will occur between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. This action comes on the heels of the union’s warning that they may initiate a strike during an end-of-month mega event, as tensions rise over an expired enterprise bargaining contract.
Station team members, customer service personnel, authorised officers, signalling staff, and train controllers are among the RTBU members who are anticipated to join the protest by walking away from their duties.
In their public statement, RTBU declared that Metro has thus far failed to address critical concerns that were broached during discussion sessions. The union has allotted Metro Trains a 15-day period in an attempt at resolving any lingering issues related to the wage disagreement.
“In the present climate of automation, rapid changes and economic uncertainty, members are bravely advocating for what is right for all employees across Victoria,” indicated RTBU branch secretary Vik Sharma.
Sharma highlighted the union’s priority to keep the strike’s impact on the public to a minimum, urging commuters to efficiently plan their working weeks around the disruptions.
“The RTBU will continue to engage with Metro and negotiate in good faith, as our members would rather avert industrial action if their concerns are met,” Mr. Sharma added, “and we offer no apologies for fighting to secure respectable conditions for our members.”
The union put forward a proposal for a 17% salary increase over a four-year period, although it’s known that negotiations surrounding the proposed raise have been underway since March of this year.
In response, Metro Trains CEO Raymond O’Flaherty affirmed that the company plans to “continue earnest negotiations” for a “fair and reasonable” resolution for their employees. He has additionally encouraged the RTBU to cooperate in reaching a settlement, stating, “We’re offering an attractive pay hike and implore the RTBU to collaborate with us to agree on a deal.”
Mr. O’Flaherty also revealed that they are currently determining the potential impacts of the proposed industrial action on their passengers.