No agreement as NSW train strikes escalate

AAPAAP
Commuters are again facing major disruption on the NSW rail network.
Camera IconCommuters are again facing major disruption on the NSW rail network. Credit: AAP

Just over one-in-five Sydney commuters had to find another way to work as ongoing industrial action took trains out of action again.

Commuters were advised on Tuesday to find alternative transport as Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) members refused to drive foreign-built trains that run about 75 per cent of the services.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the network experienced "significantly lower numbers" during the morning peak, with about 170,000 passengers catching the train, 22 per cent less than on a normal day.

The services that did run "travelled reliably".

NSW TrainLink chief executive Dale Merrick said intercity train commuters "are effectively experiencing a weekend timetable" and stretching 25 per cent of the fleet across the entire network "does create problems for our customers".

Tuesday's disruption is the latest in ongoing strikes that saw train workers launch similar industrial action last week.

The enterprise agreement covering more than 10,000 staff expired in May and after dozens of meetings over several months a new one has still not been struck.

Negotiations will continue on Wednesday and Mr Longland said progress had been made during "intensive meetings for the (past) month or two".

"We're listening and we want to work in good faith to get an outcome," Mr Longland says.

"We're again calling on the unions to come back to the bargaining table and work with us rather than inflicting these sorts of impacts on customers."

Workers have been offered a 2.5 per cent wage increase, including super, which Mr Longland said is "consistent with the NSW wage policy".

That came after an earlier offer of 0.3 per cent, which the RTBU called "insulting".

Wages are not the only issue in what Mr Longland called "a complex log of claims", and "there are a range of other matters that we're still working through" with the seven unions involved.

Among other union demands are an end to privatisation, the maintaining of safety standards, and a commitment to retaining current hygiene levels while not relying on contractors to provide it.

With train drivers striking again, RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens hopes the outstanding issues will be resolved.

"It's disappointing that another week has passed, and there's still no indication (of) the NSW government stepping in and doing the right thing," Mr Claassens said in a statement.

"The NSW government has been refusing to commit to providing workers and commuters with basic guarantees around hygiene, safety and privatisation for many months now.

"No one likes industrial action. But we can't allow our basic safety, hygiene and privatisation asks to go ignored."

Opposition leader Chris Minns wants the government to sit down with the unions and solve disputes so industrial action can be avoided.

The RTBU has warned industrial action will escalate throughout December.

The bans on foreign-built trains bookended a period where union workers were also refusing to clean hazardous waste and graffiti.

On Wednesday there will be a 24-hour ban on issuing fines, followed by a network-wide overnight stoppage from 8pm Monday.

When that stoppage ends at 4am on Tuesday members won't work for three days where contractors are present.

Workers are also staging "ongoing indefinite actions" such as wearing shorts to work and affixing union messaging to rail assets.

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