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Commuter pain looms for one city

PREMIER DAN ANDREWS
Melbourne residents could face major disruptions to their commute as the union threatens to strike. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

Commuters in one major Aussie city could face travel pain as the rail union threatens to strike during a major event period.

Trains across Melbourne could come to a stop as pay negotiations between the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and Metro Trains come to a head over their expired enterprise agreement.

The union said they are looking at stopping trains for up to 48-hours later this month.

It could lead to major commuter headaches with the AFL finals, Melbourne Royal Show and school holidays in late September.

“Metro is not listening to staff,” RTBU secretary Vik Sharma said on Tuesday.

“Metro’s last offer fell far from the mark and has only agitated members across the network.

PREMIER DAN ANDREWS
The train union is threatening to strike in Melbourne over pay negotiation disputes. Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

“We are yet to see meaningful commitments on the issues that matter to RTBU members.”

“Job security, increased workloads, cost of living pressures, staffing levels and delivery of major projects such as Metro Tunnel, new ticketing and signalling technologies are all relevant factors in this bargaining round.”

The union is asking for a 16 per cent pay bump over the course of four years.

The enterprise agreement has been under negotiation since March and has been expired for two months, with the union rejecting two “subpar” offers from the government.

“Following meetings with workplace representatives, members have made it clear they will not accept an offer from Metro that fails to address their demands,” an RTBU spokesman said.

“The union has filed documents with the Fair Work Commission for Metro operations staff to take industrial action.”

Victorian Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Vik Sharma is asking for the government to listen to staff. Supplied: RTBU
Victorian Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Vik Sharma is asking for the government to listen to staff. Supplied: RTBU

Members will vote on whether they take the industrial action and if successful, the union has promised to minimise the impact it will have on commuters.

“We are focused on targeting Metro while seeking to minimise the impact on the travelling public and as such we are committed to providing sufficient notice for alternative travel plans to be made,” Mr Sharma said.

While rail strikes are a regular feature on Sydney’s transport network, there has not been a rail strike of this scale in Melbourne since 2015.

A Metro Trains spokesperson said they are strongly urging the union not to undertake industrial action.

“We will continue to negotiate in good faith to resolve this dispute and do everything in our power to avoid any unnecessary action that impacts passengers,” they said.

“We’re committed to providing a competitive pay increase so we can continue to deliver the services needed to keep people moving.”