Rail union taking NSW govt to court

A rail union plan to deactivate Opal readers is up in the air less than 24 hours before it begins.

A rail union plan to deactivate Opal readers is up in the air less than 24 hours before it begins. Photo: AAP

Industrial action to deactivate Opal card readers is up in the air less than 24 hours before it begins, with the NSW government planning to sue and the rail union taking it to court in response.

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union says it’s under attack from a hostile state government.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens says all the state’s workers should be watching with great fear.

“This government has shown that this is not about finding a resolution … this is actually far worse,” Mr Claassens told reporters on Wednesday.

“This is quite clearly a political strategy to take us all the way through the next election and out the other side, and in the process, sue its own workforce and bankrupt the union that seeks to speak on their behalf.”

The union plans to deactivate Opal readers at train stations between 3pm and 7pm on weekdays, indefinitely, beginning on Thursday.

The government announced it would sue the union and seek damages, alleging the action is illegal and dangerous.

“I believe the RTBU are recklessly putting the lives of our communities in danger,” Transport Minister David Elliott said on Tuesday.

The union held a protected action ballot for members to vote on whether to deactivate Opal readers, and would ask the Federal Court to rule on whether its action can go ahead.

“We thought it was prudent this morning to file our own case,” Mr Claassens said.

The dispute is also due back in the Fair Work Commission on Thursday morning.

It’s unclear whether the plan to deactivate Opal readers will still go ahead.

The union and government are locked in a protracted dispute over a new enterprise agreement, and are also at loggerheads over a Korean-built fleet of intercity trains, in storage since 2019.

The union argues the trains are not safe to operate in NSW yet while the government insists they are.

The dispute between the government and rail union has gone on too long, Labor leader Chris Minns says, blaming a change in approach to unions since Mr Perrottet became premier.

“It’s lawyers at 20 paces and I think the commuters miss out, so let’s get an agreement,” Mr Minns said.


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