Syd Folks Could Cop Free Train Rides ‘Cos The Rail Union’s Voted To Turn Off Opal Readers

The latest chapter in the frankly epic dispute saga between the NSW Government and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has seen transport workers voting to shut off Opal readers. It’s the ciiiircle of union disputes.

97 per cent of union members voted to turn off Opal machines, as reported by 9News.

At the moment, the RTBU hasn’t made a call about when exactly the machines will be switched off. It has to let the government know about any industrial action three days in advance.

RTBU NSW secretary Alex Claassens said the earliest that could happen is next week.

“We think the government will challenge it… and take us to the Federal Court,” he said, per The Sydney Morning Herald.

ICYMI, the RTBU had a plan to turn off Opal readers back in September, but ultimately canned it after a legal move from the NSW Government.

The government lodged a Fair Work Commission application over the union’s planned action.

The RTBU cancelled the action but said at the time it was “fully committed to giving fare free travel to commuters and is now considering alternative ways that this can be achieved”.

When it comes to the most recent shutdown plan, Claassens said it was “disappointing” the union is having to take more industrial action.

“Commuters deserve safe trains and workers deserve fair wages and conditions,” he said, per 9News.

“It’s disappointing that we have to take any action at all to ensure that, but unfortunately the NSW Government hasn’t left us with any other options.

“Our fight is with the NSW Government and management — it has never been with the commuters.”

As you might expect, the government isn’t a fan of this plan.

The ABC reported NSW Transport Minister David Elliott described it as “threatening economic vandalism against the taxpayers of NSW”. The drama!

“The Opal card readers are taxpayer assets and the unions interfering with wiring and switches to turn them off is both unsafe and ridiculous,” he said.

The government and the RTBU have been beefing for a hot sec now, with issues including pay and worker safety concerns around the new Intercity Fleet. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also threatened to get rid of the union’s enterprise agreement in September.

It is truly the stand-off to end all stand-offs.

So if you’re a NSW commuter, keep your eyes out. If-slash-when the Opal reader plan does go ahead, it’ll see people copping free train rides. Choo-choo indeed.