“The refusal by union leadership to operate these trains is further evidence of their collusion with NSW Labor. The commuting public and rail workers are suffering as a result.”
The breakdown in negotiations comes after the entire rail network was shut down on February 21, sparking days of transport chaos for commuters.
RTBU secretary Alex Claassens said while industrial action was an option, the union would not rush into a strike.
“Just because one minister wants to blow the world up, doesn’t mean that we’re going to be silly about this,” he said. “They’re playing games.”
He charged the government of attempting to bait his union into taking further industrial action.
“If Damien Tudehope is going to continue to wave the red flag at us and try and force us into a position then we’re going to have some real problems,” he said.
Claassens added he had still contacted Premier Dominic Perrottet and maintained he was still on good terms with Transport Minister David Elliott, who he believed was blindsided by Tudehope’s move.
Elliott – who was not at the government’s snap announcement on Thursday – was asked by Labor in parliament if he was aware that Transport NSW told union officials earlier on Thursday that the department would continue to work towards resolving issues with the fleet.
“An operating model closely aligned to the accredited Waratah fleet is proposed by NSW TrainLink,” the letter to union boss Alex Claassens, dated May 12, said.
“If this is approved by the government, it is proposed that an interim model is adopted for a limited number of sets to be in revenue service by December 2022, whilst modification of design is underway for the entire fleet (changed driver screens and door controls to more closely align with Waratah sets),” the letter said.
Elliott told parliament that “he was just a suburban dad trying to right some wrongs” and the government’s proposal had to be presented to the cabinet’s expenditure review committee, which Elliott is not on.
Labor’s transport spokeswoman Jo Haylen said was “another attempt by the government to cause chaos right across our train network for their own political purposes.”
“Just this morning, the Deputy Secretary of the Department sent a letter to the RTBU saying they are continuing collaborative discussions around an interim operating model for the new intercity fleet,” Haylen said.
“By the afternoon Damien Tudehope and Matt Kean blew those negotiations up.”
Our Breaking News Alert will notify you of significant breaking news when it happens. get it here.