Trains back on track… for now

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By Mitchell Clarke

Planned industrial action on Melbourne’s rail network which would see free train travel for Monday 12 and 19 August has been called off, but the prospect of train pain isn’t over yet.

Rail Tram and Bus Union state secretary Luba Grigorovitch said the move to call off the action was a show of good faith.

“Our members are committed to supporting the travelling public while in pursuit of a fair enterprise agreement,” Ms Grigorovitch said.

The proposed action would see staff refusing to check tickets and ban last-minute scheduling changes such as station skipping.

It comes as union members urge Metro for better working conditions and a pay rise of six percent over the next three years, but despite five months of negotiations and repeated threats of action, they’re yet to strike a deal.

Metro CEO Raymond O’Flaherty has welcomed the RTBU calling off the action, saying the outcome means passengers have been spared the unnecessary impacts of the proposed work bans.

“We have always maintained that an agreement can be reached at the bargaining table, and without disrupting our passengers,” Mr O’Flaherty said.

“All work bans planned for the next two weeks have now been withdrawn, meaning there will be no impacts to services.

“We look forward to lifting the pace and intensity of negotiations this week so we can reach a fair and reasonable agreement for our employees.”

In accordance with the Fair Work Act, any industrial action taken by the RTBU Monday 12 August would be unprotected and could attract penalties.

A four-hour stoppage planned for Tuesday 27 August which would see train drivers, customer service and station staff walk off the job completely between 10am and 2pm could still occur.

Meanwhile, Metro’s July performance results have been released, with 91.3 percent of services being on time over the month, a three percent increase from June’s results.

Department Head of Transport Jeroen Weimar said the increase in on-time performance was encouraging but added that a number of significant external incidents affected Metro’s ability to meet its 92 percent target.

A major factor in Metro’s below-target July result occurred on 15 July when almost 120 services were either delayed or cancelled following an incident when a train hit two cars parked across the Brunt Road level crossing near Officer.

“While it’s positive to see more services arriving on time, we continue to work with Metro to manage major incidents outside of their control and ensure our passengers receive a reliable train service all day, every day,” Mr Weimar said.

Rail Safety Week begins next week.

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