Melbournians are set to cop two free days of public transport as the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) takes industrial action against Melbourne’s Metro Trains.
Your next two Mondays (August 12 and 19) will suck slightly less if you live in the Victorian capital city because station staff are going to keep barriers open all day long and authorised officers won’t be checking myki passes.
Thankfully, the strike is aimed at Metro Trains, and not those of us who rely on public transport, so your commute shouldn’t be disrupted by the industrial action.
“These action items announced today are designed to target Metro and will not impact commuters’ ability to catch the train,” RTBU Victorian Branch Secretary Luba Grigorovitch said in a statement, according to 9News.
So, it’s a pretty sweet deal for us. Free PT and minimal disruptions is a ‘yes’ in my books.
However, the deal is not so sweet for public transport workers who are protesting over a proposed new Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for operational workers. Basically, RTBU are requesting a 6% wage increase for these workers, but Metro Trains will only offer 2%.
Honestly, if you’ve ever been at Flinders Street station after a big night out, you’d understand why they’re asking for an extra 6%. People are gross. People are mean. Public transport workers cop a whole heap of shit that they absolutely don’t deserve and aren’t paid for.
This isn’t the first time transport workers have had to protest for a pay increase, with a similar strike taking place in 2015 that resulted in a 4.4% pay increase.
The proposed new agreement also aims to axe the time-and-a-half overtime rates that transport workers currently receive, among other things.
According to Luba Grigorovitch, the fare-free Mondays are the “lighter” end of the union’s potential protests, with the possibility of a strike for up to 48 hours if demands aren’t met.
Transport workers will also refuse to modify services, which basically means that they won’t skip stations or the city loop if requested by Metro. These tactics are implemented by Metro to help meet their performance targets, but apparently should’ve been axed when the current seven-year government contract began.
While Monday’s free transport is a total win and an extra $10 for the rest of us, it means a lot more to the public transport workers of Melbourne.
If you’re travelling on Monday and making the most of the free public transport, make sure to be extra nice to the people that work hard to make sure you can get to work every day. Actually, just be nice to them every day. It’s not that hard to not be a dick.Image: Getty Images / Glenn Gregory