Sydney train drivers have decided to strike on January 29

Photo: Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images

NSW rail staff have voted to hold a 24-hour strike on Monday, January 29, as pay negotiations with the NSW government broke down, promising more chaos for Sydney commuters amid continuing delays and dysfunction in the city’s train network.

The strike will be held the day before most schools return after the summer holidays.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW Secretary, Alex Claassens, announced plans for the strike late yesterday claiming the NSW Government and Sydney and NSW Trains management “refused to bargain fairly” during six months of negotiations.

“The terrible way management and the NSW Government are willing to treat its hard-working employees has been laid bare for everyone to see lately,” he said.

“All workers are asking for are fair working conditions and wages in return for the work they do.”

He said the NSW Government “haven’t left us with any other options”.

The rail workers are seeking a 6% pay rise and better conditions and drivers will stop working overtime from next Thursday, just before Australia Day, risking more problems around the national holiday.

Sydney Trains CEO Howard Collins said the refusal to work unplanned or rostered overtime will add to the existing problems with the timetable.

NSW transport minister Andrew Constance called the strike “ridiculous” and said it will shut down the city.

“The government is willing to make a pay rise offer to Sydney train drivers and NSW train drivers. It’s in accordance with the wages policy, that is a 2.5% per annum increase without any productivity improvement whatsoever,” he said.

“Millions of Sydneysiders are going to be brought to a grinding halt because the union is demanding a 24% pay rise.”

The minister called the union’s escalation to industrial action bizarre, saying that last week, four of seven rail unions did not support a strike in a union ballot.

“This is not putting customers first, this is putting union bosses interests ahead of customers,” he said.

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