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‘Plan B’ needed to resolve NSW train dispute

Three Sydney train lines shut in another day of action

A third-party could be needed to resolve the stalled negotiations in the long running dispute between the NSW government and the rail union.

Employee Relations Minister Damien Tudehope said he didn’t know where negotiations would go next.

“I think there has to be a plan B,” he told Sydney radio 2GB on Tuesday.

“Let’s get a sort of independent arbiter to sort of work between us but it’s got to be conditional upon a suspension or pausing of industrial activity,” he said.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union NSW secretary Alex Claassens agreed.

“We need somebody to drag us all in around the table and keep us there until the matter is resolved,” he said on Monday.

“At this point nobody has done that, all we get is a succession of different ministers ringing me up and saying ‘we’ve got to sit at the table’.”

Sydney train commuters face delays with reduced and cancelled services on Tuesday as the rail union pushes ahead with a month of targeted strikes that have been criticised by the government and opposition.

Transport for NSW warned travellers of a week of disruptions, with services significantly impacted by strikes on Tuesday and Thursday.

Services are reduced on the T1 North Shore and Western lines and T7 Olympic Park and T9 Northern lines on Tuesday, and no trains will travel on the T5 Cumberland Line between Richmond and Leppington.

On Thursday, trains on all suburban lines will run to amended timetables as City Circle and Redfern workers strike from 10am to 4pm.

“Unfortunately, commuters will experience longer journey times, less frequent services, and changes to stopping patterns due to this industrial action,” Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said on Monday.

Commuters are being advised to avoid non-essential travel.

Mr Tudehope blamed the union for the lack of progress in negotiations and said he’s “up for” having a lock-in negotiation.

“But it’s got to be on the basis that people are willing to actually walk out of the room with a solution,” he said.

“At the moment, there’s only one party in the room that wants to reach a solution.”

There were meetings on Friday, Sunday and Monday to try to resolve the long-running dispute.

The union is looking to negotiate its new enterprise agreement, and separately have the government agree to make safety amendments to a mothballed Korean-built fleet of intercity trains.

Both the government and opposition have called for the strikes to be cancelled, with Premier Dominic Perrottet accusing the union of using commuters as pawns.

“They’ve got to stop playing political games with the NSW Labor Party,” Mr Perrottet said on Monday.

Labor leader Chris Minns wants an end to the industrial action and has called for a return to the negotiating table.

“Whatever progress has been made needs to be banked and the two sides need to get back to the negotiating table … further industrial action will only see commuters be the meat in the sandwich,” Mr Minns said on Monday.

-AAP

Topics: NSW
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