The Rail Union’s Plan To Turn Off Opal Machines Has Been Canned After A Move By The NSW Govt

The Rail, Tram and Bus Union has backed down from its original plan to switch off Opal machines. It comes after a legal move from the NSW Government — RIP your low-cost train rides, I guess.

Opal reader machines across New South Wales were set to be turned off from this Wednesday, amid the ongoing industrial dispute between the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the State Government. AKA free train fares, baby.

However, the RTBU has since cancelled its plans after the government lodged a Fair Work Commission application over the situation. It wanted the Union’s action to be declared “unprotected” and said the proposed action was “prima facie unlawful”, according to its legal advice.

“The submission comes after the Combined Rail Unions rejected a number of formal requests from transport officials to withdraw the action,” it said.

Time to top up the ‘ol Opal card then.

The RTBU said it was “confident the government is wrong” but had made the call to cancel the switch-off plans.

“Commuters will not be getting free travel from Wednesday,” it said in a statement, per 9News.

“The RTBU NSW is fully committed to giving fare free travel to commuters and is now considering alternative ways that this can be achieved.”

This turn of events is perhaps not a massive shock. Last week NSW’s Transport Minister David Elliott said he would take the rail union to court over plans to switch off Opal card readers.

According to the ABC, Elliott was given legal advice that the RTBU’s threat is against the law and said he would take any worker seen switching the readers off to court.

“Prima facie we believe it’s illegal,” he said.

“I will go down to any court in the country to make sure that any person who is seen to be doing this is prosecuted.”

Unions NSW originally announced the ‘yuge news via Twitter on September 14, advising commuters the new measure would commence on September 21 and continue “indefinitely”.

At the time, NSW RTBU secretary Alex Claasens told The Sydney Morning Herald the Opal reader blackout was designed to piss off the state government, and the union didn’t want travellers to be affected.

“Obviously, we’re making sure that they’re going to be kept open and working the way we want them to work so people don’t have to pay,” he said.

“We want to put pressure on the government and senior bureaucrats, not the travelling public.

“We’re escalating that particular action, and it will continue indefinitely until there is an agreement with the government.”

The plan was for entire Opal reader machines to be switched off. That’s different to last month’s industrial action, when Opal gates were left open but the card readers were still functioning, which meant people could still tap on and off if they really wanted to.

Despite the RTBU banning its officers from issuing fines to anyone who wasn’t tapping on, some non-union officers went ahead and bloody did it anyway. Siri, show me the definition of “Judas”.

According to The Daily Telegraph, the RTBU also established a “hotline” that union members can call to find out how to turn off Opal reader machines. A stunning example of upskilling, some would say.

Per a memo leaked to the publication, some deactivation tactics included pressing the “emergency egress button, flicking the internal switch on legacy gates, or tripping the circuit breaker for the stand-alone Opal poles’”.

The planned industrial action came off the back of a longstanding dispute over safety concerns and a new pay deal for rail workers. Per, the RTBU is seeking a pay rise of 3.5 per cent, which is higher than the government’s offer to increase annual wages by three per cent.

Just give rail workers the extra .5 per cent, FFS.

According to the government, it was expecting the FWC to hear its application over the Opal machine switch-off within 48 hours. Speedy.

This feud is starting to get more dramatic than the one between Kanye West and Pete Davidson.