Rail union accused of ‘political games’ as planned strikes go ahead

Claassens said trains that did not meet “minimum maintenance standards” under the union’s latest work-to-rule actions could be due to failures of CCTV cameras, emergency doors and toilets, as well as unclean or graffitied carriages.

“It is all about making life extremely difficult for the senior managers and the bureaucrats and the government. It has not been about inconveniencing the public any more than what’s necessary to prove our point,” he said.

The RTBU’s plans to press on with industrial action come despite Labor leader Chris Minns warning on Monday that strikes would not lead to an agreement between the rail union and the government.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said commuters should be prepared for delays and cancellations this week due to the industrial action.

“Commuters should avoid any non-essential travel this week. If you must travel on the rail network, please plan your journey in advance,” he said.

The rail operator said trains on all suburban lines would run to an amended timetable on Thursday, which would result in a “major reduction” to services during peak periods.

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Last week several government ministers presented an unsigned deed to union leaders guaranteeing that the government will modify the state’s multibillion-dollar train fleet but on the condition that a new pay deal is completed at the same time.

The deed – if signed – will guarantee that the government will spend more than $260 million to modify guard compartments on the intercity trains, which have been mothballed at a maintenance facility on the Central Coast for months. The rail union claims that the trains will pose safety risks unless changes are made to surveillance cameras and doors.

The union has repeatedly rejected the deed being made contingent on completion of a new enterprise agreement, leaving the two sides at a stalemate.

The government is offering rail workers pay rises of 3 per cent in year one and 3.5 per cent in year two, which is in line with its wage policy for public sector workers.

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