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‘Rolling’ train strikes to hit NSW network

NSW trains
There will be rolling train strikes across the NSW transport network from next week. Photo: AAP
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A long-running industrial fight between the rail union and NSW government will ramp up next week, with several strikes planned this month on the state’s train network.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is locked in a stalemate with the government over a new enterprise agreement and a Korean-made Intercity train fleet, with the union pushing for a deal guaranteeing fixes to safety issues.

The government, which argues the fleet is safe, has promised to spend $264 million to modify the stock but the union wants written confirmation.

The RTBU said further protected industrial action would take place after the government failed to unlink its pledge to fix the fleet’s issues from rail workers’ wages and conditions.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the sporadic strikes would occur in one area at a time, meaning trains could continue to run in most areas.

A “protected action calendar” released by the RTBU shows four scheduled strikes in August, each hitting a different part of the network.

The first strike on August 10 will impact train services in Sydney’s south, as well as Bondi Junction.

Other strikes will take place on August 17, 23 and 25.

In addition, transport officers will refuse to issue fines and the gates at train stations will be left open as part of the union action over the month.

On various dates in August cleaners will stop using vacuum cleaners or scrubbing machines, and on some days there will be a ban on operating foreign-made trains.

“We’ve done everything by the book in order to get these vital safety changes, but the government is refusing to listen,” Mr Claassens said in a statement on Tuesday.

“This is our only way of making sure that the safety changes that need to be made will actually be made,” he said.

“We’ve had plenty of verbal promises before which is why this time we need to see it committed to in a binding document.”

The escalation of action comes after the union last week hit the network with a four-hour strike that ended at 4am on Thursday.

Last month the government tried to end the industrial action but the case against the union was dismissed by the Fair Work Commission.

Transport Minister David Elliott has been contacted for comment.

– AAP