NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announces free travel on Sydney trains as heated dispute with RTBU continues
New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced free travel on trains across the state next week.
It comes after months of industrial action planned by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, with several train strikes disrupting the city’s rail services.
Sydneysiders will receive five days of free travel from November 21 to 25 in a bid to ensure commuters are not “inconvenienced” by any further industrial action.
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The NSW government said the RTBU have agreed to stop the planned industrial action next week, which would have led the union to scrap 70 per cent of trains across the network.
Mr Perrottet said the move was needed to make sure businesses across the city don’t take a “financial hit.”
“People need to get to work, go to school and go about their normal day without being disrupted by union strike action,” he said in a statement on Friday.
“I’ve taken this action to put Sydney commuters ahead of union disruption and make sure businesses across our city don’t take a financial hit.”
The NSW Premier confirmed he met with RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens on Thursday following months of pay and condition disputes.
He said the state government will enter into negotiations with the RTBU and seek to start a Fair Work managed arbitration.
“Almost one million (886,500) commuter trips are taken each week day across the Sydney train network. The cost of free travel on the network is around $1.5 million per day,” the NSW government said in the statement.
Back in September, tensions escalated between the NSW government and the RBTU after a “threat” was made to end train strikes across Sydney.
The government threatened to rip up an enterprise agreement with the union unless they agreed to end all industrial action.
The agreement included $1 billion worth of modifications to the new inner-fleet city of trains, which had been an issue for more than two years because rail workers refuse to operate them due to safety concerns.
But despite the government’s ultimatum, the RTBU said its members were “not backing down”, warning they would ramp up measures across Sydney’s public transport network.