||Issue No. 184||27 June 2003|
To the Victors The Spoils
History: Nest of Traitors
Interview: A Nation of Hope
Unions: National Focus
Safety: The Shocking Truth
Tribute: A Comrade Departed
History: Working Bees
Education: The Big Picture
International: Static Labour
Economics: Budget And Fudge It
Technology: Google and Campaigning
Review: Secretary With A Difference
Poetry: The Minimale
Satire: Howard Calls for Senate to be Replaced by Clap-O-Meter
The Locker Room
The Story in General
Thinking of America
Rail Chaos Looms
AMWU secretary, Paul Bastian, warned the whole network could come to a “screaming halt” after a range of companies locked workers out at Chullora and Auburn, threatened legal action at Bathurst, and slashed maintenance levels below specifications at Newcastle.
The combined efforts of their workforces is crucial to the continued operation of the NSW rail system. Rail Fleet Services at Chullora, 50 percent owned by state government, does heavy overhauls for diesels, XPT, Endeavour and Explorer trains. Maintrain at Auburn maintains Sydney's suburban passenger fleet. EDI, Bathurst, builds bogeys for the new Millenium trains, whilst its Newcastle plant, at Koorangang Island, repairs freight wagons for Pacific National.
Industrial action, in the form of strike, bans or lockout, threatens each location and employer resistance to entitlements protection has emerged as a common sticking point.
Maintrain, for example, is trying to backtrack on redundancy commitments brokered two years ago by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke in settlement of a dispute that ran for 11 weeks. The company stood down its 300 strong workforce last week.
Union members at Bathurst have begun a campaign of rolling stoppages after EDI refused to give commitments on job security or entitlements protection.
The company is also refusing to negotiate on entitlements at Newcastle, while Rail Fleet Services threatened to close its site rather than guarantee entitlements. More than 80 union members there, the lowest paid in the rail industry, have imposed bans.
Bastian was critical of Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa, who he said had virtually washed his hands of the looming shutdown.
Bastian said he had tried repeatedly to discuss the impasse with the Minister but his messages hadn't even elicited a reply.
"The central issue in all this is security of our members entitlements," Bastian said. "We are not prepared to see these companies lose contracts, or go bankrupt, and walk away with our money.
"We don't mind a tough fight with the employers, we will not shirk that but we do feel a responsibility when it comes to the trains in NSW to at least try to resolve these disputes before we close the system down.
"We would have thought there might also have been a role for the NSW Government in trying to prevent that happening."
Labor Council will try to organise a meeting between rail unions and Transport Services Minister, Michael Costa, in a bid to head off a rail shutdown.
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