E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One

The results of the vote on the Enterprise Agreement (EA) published at the K.O. last month show strong opposition to the balances negotiated by the union. About 66% of the opponents ratified the agreement and 34% voted against it. The RTBU only succeeded in enforcing the agreement after months of exhausting workers and cracking down on the problems caused by years of work and work within the freight company. Under the pretext of improving rail safety, the new agreement allows the introduction of audio and video surveillance devices in locomotive cabs. These devices violate the privacy of workers and are used against those who oppose job cuts and company conditions. In January, the RTBU held joint union leadership meetings in both divisions prior to the vote. It is about “explaining the results [of the negotiations] and answering questions.” The Rail Train and Bus Union (RTBU) has imposed another regressive labour agreement on some 850 workers in Pacific National`s (PN) coal and bulk transportation services in The State of New South Wales (NSW), Australia. RTBU is currently working with the NSW government to secure an additional agreement for 9,000 public railway workers throughout NSW, which will intensify the attack on wages and conditions. The union has worked with PN and other freight companies to impose drastic reductions in conditions and jobs in Victoria, Queensland and across the country. The RTBU has left negotiations on a new agreement beyond 10 months. Late last year, the union launched a union action campaign for which workers voted in September. The union allowed only symbolic prohibitions and interruptions.

The RTBU was successful and negotiated roundly after voluntary dismissals negotiated at the union level. In 2014, the RTBU signed AAS which allowed it to increase coverage to 49% of its workforce. The workers were not informed of the provision during the vote on this agreement. The union imposed these reductions by sharing employees of the PN, other freight companies and railway and bus workers. This led to the defeat of some of the workers one after the other in a continuous run down. The EA also retains “Lift up and Lay back” provisions that require workers to report to the service before their departure time and to stay late two to three hours after the end of their scheduled service, if requested by the company. In particular, the attack on railway and freight workers underscores the need for a new political perspective that rejects the subordination of transport, freight transport and all aspects of social life to the diktat of the benefit of the business and financial elite.


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