70% Of Sydney Trains Will Be Borked ‘Cos Of Tomorrow’s Strike Action So Whip Out Your Unicycle

There’s a small chance that if you live in Sydney, you’ve clocked on to the ongoing train strikes. Or maybe you’re really into getting to work on roller skates! No judgement here.

But for those of us who do catch the train, it might be a good idea to look into alternative modes of transport for Wednesday August 31. That’s ‘cos striking workers are boycotting foreign-made trains for 24 hours, which is roughly 70 per cent of the Sydney fleet.

Which train lines be affected by the strike?

This strike isn’t new info: August 31 was identified as a strike day back when industrial action was first announced. However, there was some hope that the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the NSW Government would have struck a deal by now. Although there was a big ‘ol meeting between the two groups on Monday, they couldn’t reach a final agreement according to News.com.au.

Sydney Trains chief exec Matt Longland told 2GB radio that Sydneysiders should avoid catching trains tomorrow. Most trains will only be arriving once every half hour, and there’ll be no trains for the T7 Olympic Park or T5 Cumberland lines.

Can I catch a bus instead?

Separately, the Transport Workers Union is holding a bus strike on Wednesday — which is unrelated to the train strike but will obv have a big impact on commuters.

According to 9News, the affected suburbs are in region six and include the Inner West (Campsie, Leichhardt, Ashfield and Burwood), as well as some CBD routes, Sydney Olympic Park, Rockdale, Miranda, Hurstville, Bondi Junction, Westfield Eastgardens, Chatswood and Taronga Zoo.

That strike’ll take place from 4am to 7am and then again from 2.30pm to 5.30pm.

Why are train workers striking?

Train workers have been holding industrial action over safety concerns. I don’t know about you, but I reckon safety — for passengers and workers — seems like a pretty fucking big deal.

The bulk of worker concerns are centred on the New Intercity Fleet. Amazingly no, while that sounds pretty sci-fi it’s actually not something from Star Trek.

These fancy new trains were made in South Korea but they’ve been sitting in storage because of workers’ concerns.

Basically, the new trains rely on CCTV monitoring. But the CCTV cameras don’t have audio, plus their line of sight would be impacted thanks to the train’s design.

The reason why workers are worried about this is that passengers could have an undetectable accident — like falling between the train and the platform — but the lack of audio would mean train staff can’t hear them, per 9News.

How are negotiations progressing?

Last week the Government agreed to make changes to the fleet in a legal deed. At the time RTBU secretary Alex Claassens told the ABC that the union could agree to the deed.

“The trains they bought from South Korea as driver-only trains were never going to work on the NSW rail system,” he said.

“We were always going to fight that fight.”

He said the deed would have to guarantee a couple of things: that the trains would be fixed, and they wouldn’t be fixed with money taken from workers’ wages and conditions.

NSW Transport Minister David Elliott said last Friday that the RTBU “[appears] to be close to a resolution, but there are one or two outstanding matters that need to be determined”, as per News.com.au.

However, this week the two groups are still beefing. The NSW Government said in a letter it would remove the deed requirement that any alterations to the fleet would depend on the RTBU agreeing to a new enterprise agreement.

According to The New Daily, Claassens said that as of Monday he hadn’t been given a copy of the deed to sign. So in short: a stalemate over the deed continues.

“It was a letter that was clearly designed for a purpose but it wasn’t designed for resolving our dispute,” Claassens said.

But hey worst comes to worst: train strikes are a great excuse to invest in a unicycle.