||Issue No. 195||12 September 2003|
Coalition of the Swilling
Interview: Crowded Lives
Activists: Life With Brian
Industrial: National Focus
Unions: If These Walls Could Talk
Economics: Beating the Bastards
Media: Three Corners
History: The Brisbane Line
Trade: The Dumping Problem
Review: Frankie's Way
The Locker Room
Safety Off The Rails
Frustrated unions are now appealing over the head of NSW Transport Minister Michael Costa to senior Carr lieutenant Craig Knowles in a bid to end lockouts that are preventing workers undertaking vital braking and electronics checks.
Maintrain, owned by Gonninans, has locked more than 300 AMWU members out of their Auburn workshops 15 times since EBA negotiations stalled two months ago, compromising rolling stock maintenance.
Besides derailing the scheduled safety audits, the campaign has deferred key advances highlighted by the Waterfall Inquiry into the deaths of seven travelers last year.
Maintrain workers say the program to install Driver Vigilance Control Systems, designed as back-up to the dead man's brake, and black box software, has been put back.
AMWU assistant secretary, John Parkin, says Maintrain has reneged on Heads of Agreement, thrashed out two years ago under the chairmanship of former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, and that former Labor Council secretary, Costa, has refused to become involved - either as Minister in charge of the service or as a representative of the SRA, which was also party to the Hawke agreement.
Gonninans established Maintrain to cash in on Greiner Government plans to privatise NSW rail and its sole contract is with State Rail.
"They've gone back on the agreement not to make any forced redundancies," Parkin said.
"Every time we have a report back meeting, even with a small group, they lock out the entire shift. If we meet for an hour they lock everyone out for 24 hours.
"It's no wonder the maintanence program is behind schedule.
"We've been trying to get Costa to meet for months and he won't even talk to us about it. His Government is one of the signatories to the Heads of Agreement and the last time we looked, rail travel came under the heading of transport.
"It's ridiculous. Imagine if you or I didn't bother to register our car and said it was okay because we had last year's ticket. Trains are even more important because they put more people's lives at stake."
"Costa has to stop thinking like a boss and start thinking like someone who is responsible for public safety."
Labor Council assistant secretary, Mark Lennon, confirmed his organisation had also been brushed, on the issue, by its former top dog.
"We have been trying to organise a meeting with Minister Costa to no avail," Lennon admitted. "If we can't get the Minister of Transport to focus on it, let's see if we can get the Minister of Infrastructure."
Meanwhile, the AIG's pattern lockout tactic, is still being applied at Rheem where hundreds of workers trying to secure their entitlements are being locked out for 24 hours every time they meet to consider developments in negotiations.
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