By Mitchell Clarke
V/Line passengers reliant on the Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines will be affected as frustrated employees walk off the job, meaning there will be no train services on Tuesday 17 December.
But the pain will remain, as V/Line employees take industrial action across the state from Wednesday 11 December until Saturday 20 December, in a bid to secure a “fair and reasonable” workplace.
Over 98 percent of staff voted in favour of the action which would see stoppages from six minutes up to 48 hours, the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) announced on Tuesday 3 December.
On Monday 16 December, employees will stop work for six minutes commencing at the departure time of each timetabled service from Southern Cross Station before walking off the job all together across Gippsland on Tuesday 17 December.
The employees aren’t fighting for better pay, rather better working conditions, according to RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch.
“V/Line’s attacks on staff have not been well received and members are ready to stand up.
“Our members take great pride in their work, getting people from A to B, but when Government and the Company team up to attack their ability to deliver that service they take it very personally,” Ms Grigorovitch said.
It’s understood the RTBU have been trying to negotiate with the company since the start of the year to provide additional funding for regional services.Now, the union is accusing the Public Transport Minister of being “uninterested” in regional services.
“If there is no ribbon to cut, or a shiny project to announce it is clear that the government isn’t interested,” Ms Grigorovitch added.
“The government is expecting V/Line workers to do more with less, more services less support, and our members just won’t stand for it.”
Meanwhile, Narracan MP Gary Blackwood said the Gippsland line was already one of the “worst performing lines” and labelled the delays and cancellations as “unacceptable”.
“At this time of year commuters need reliable, safe, punctual public transport to spend time with family or friends,” Mr Blackwood said.
“Public Transport Minister Melissa Horne has lurched from disaster to disaster and this industrial action on her watch is a reflection of her performance as Minister.”
Conductors, customer service employees, train drivers, controllers, shunters and authorised officers are all covered under the action.