Chaos on Sydney trains as industrial action continues

Commuters are being warned they could face major disruptions across Sydney as rail workers strike for another two weeks.

Sydney commuters are being warned of major delays as an already reduced public transport timetable is set to be hit by ongoing industrial action from Monday.

Members of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union will continue their industrial action for the next two weeks amid a bitter industrial dispute with the NSW government.

While some workers refuse to drive foreign-made trains, the union is pushing for negotiations to a new enterprise agreement with Transport for NSW, including bans on overtime and working alongside contractors.

Transport Minister David Elliott said he understood some of the more legitimate claims but described the refusal to work on foreign-made vehicles “quite bizarre”.

“I think it’s unnecessary industrial action,” he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham on Monday.

“Nobody at the moment denies the fact that a lot of workers deserve a pay rise, but what workers deserve and what the taxpayers can afford are two different things.”

Mr Elliott said the people set to be most affected are Sydney commuters, but it won’t be “too much of an inconvenience”.

He said the refusal to work on foreign-made vehicles was “quite extraordinary”.

“They wear foreign watches, they drink beer made by foreign companies, they’ll probably drive foreign cars,” Mr Elliott said.

“I think this ban on overtime is actually just ridiculous because the only people who are going to suffer are the families of the railway employees.”

Foreign-made vehicles make up 75 per cent of Sydney’s rail services.

The Transport Minister is set to meet with the union on Monday morning to try to resolve the long-running dispute.

Mr Elliott is urging commuters to check the NSW Rail website for the frequency of services and to plan ahead in case of delays.

RTBU organising director Toby Warnes said despite “many months of bargaining”, Sydney Trains and NSW TrainLink management had not shown “members and delegates the respect they deserve”.

Mr Warnes said management and rail operators were now looking to put changes into policy “rather than into the enterprise agreement”.

“Policy can be changed at the whim of management, whereas an enterprise agreement is legally enforceable by members,” he said.

So far in 2022, there have been six meetings between rail operators and the unions.

Industrial action will continue until at least February 21, causing delays and cancellations.

“From Sunday 6 February to Monday 21 February, Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink intercity and regional train services could be disrupted due to protected industrial action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union,” the Transport for NSW website said.

“Other rail unions also have various forms of industrial action ongoing during this time. You can expect varied impacts on the network with some services delayed and cancelled at short notice.

“Some NSW TrainLink regional trains may be replaced by coaches.”

Originally published as Ongoing industrial action set to cause commuter chaos across Sydney’s rail network for at least two weeks