The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has told New South Wales commuters to stay home from work on 29 January as rail workers strike for 24 hours.
The RTBU announced the strike after lengthy discussions with members who claimed they were “fed up” with the NSW transport minister, Andrew Constance, and who are fighting for a pay rise and improved working conditions.
The union’s state secretary, Alex Claassens, urged commuters to put pressure on the government and if “worse came to worse” avoid going to work and stay home on 29 January.
The work stoppage will begin at 12.01am on the Monday – the start of the new school year for many.
The strike announcement comes after a horror week for the city’s rail network, which left thousands of commuters stranded in peak hour.
In addition to the 24-hour strike, rail workers will wear campaign clothing and badges from Friday before implementing an indefinite ban on overtime that would begin on 25 January, the day before the Australia Day long weekend.
Rail workers are unhappy about the current enterprise agreement and have voted to take industrial action as they continue to fight for a 6% pay rise and improved working conditions
While Claassens acknowledges the proposed 6% rise is “a bit out there,” he says members want decent recognition for their work.
Constance labelled the union’s behaviour to take strike action “bizarre” and warned it would bring thousands of commuters to a grinding halt.
He said the government was willing to give a 2.5% pay rise to Sydney and NSW train drivers, in accordance with its wages policy.
He did not rule out taking the matter to court to protect customers.