|Issue No 11||30 April 1999|
Rail Workers Strike for Passenger Safety
By Noel Hester
- ASU (Services Branch) media officer
Concerns for passenger safety galvanised ASU members employed by State Rail in the Southern Tablelands to take industrial action this week.
Eight freight trains and two passenger services to Canberra and Goulburn were locked up through Tuesday night after ASU members at Moss Vale station and the Medway signal box - backed up by train controllers - went on strike.
The dispute arose after a breach by State Rail Authority of an agreement reached during a job redesign process on the staffing of stations.
ASU members insist that unstaffed stations be managed by the nearest staffed station - in this case Moss Vale - as outlined in the agreement with State Rail.
Management were trying to have the stations managed from the sectoral office - in this case at Liverpool over 100 kilometers away.
"We were concerned about passenger safety. Passengers expect stations to be safe. The response time from Liverpool is poor to any problems such as vandalism and violence," said Darrin Bayley, a duty manager at Moss Vale station.
ASU Assistant Secretary George Panigiris said SRA were notified about the dispute 20 days before and had plenty of time to withdraw the provocation.
'There is no reason at all for the inconvenience that was caused to passengers. We told them exactly when and they knew we would be taking industrial action,' he said.
The ASU's position was supported by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. SRA backed down on Wednesday and undertook to stick by the principles of the agreement.
SRA might have been hoping the blame for the inconvenience to the public caused by their provocation would fall on union members.
But local papers report that stranded passengers were totally sympathetic and full of praise for the local Moss Vale staff.
'They have been really polite and it is not fair they have to deal with this as its not their fault,' one passenger said.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005