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Melbourne’s Rail Network At Risk of Disruption As Union Threatens Strike

Melbourne’s bustling rail network could face significant disruptions if thousands of Metro Trains workers threaten to strike amid ongoing pay negotiations. 

On Monday, the Rai, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said it applied for permission from the Fair Work Commission to vote among its members on taking protected industrial action, which could include strikes lasting up to 48 hours.

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Negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement covering a wide range of rail operations staff, including train drivers, station personnel, authorised officers, and signallers, have been ongoing between Metro and the union since March. 

The proposed industrial action to be voted on includes strikes of up to 48 hours, bans on working overtime, and bans on wearing uniforms. 

Union secretary Vik Sharma told The Age that the RTBU had already rejected two “subpar” offers from Metro, and failed to meet the demands for improved conditions.

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“Metro is not listening to staff. Metro’s last offer fell far from the mark and has only agitated members across the network,” he said.

Various concerns raised by the workers include job security, increased workloads, cost of living pressures, and staffing levels amidst substantial rail upgrades.

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

The potential strike action could impact Melbourne’s daily commute, as the city’s trains cater to approximately 450,000 passengers daily. 

Metro’s latest offer included an annual pay rise of four per cent over a four-year agreement, but negotiations remain ongoing.

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