WHEN DEMAND IS HIGH

Luba Grigorovitch
Branch Secretary

It is no secret that our industry is currently booming with rail projects. These projects have created an unprecedented demand for Signals & Communications (S&C) qualifications in Victoria and placed huge strain on regional S&C resources as members consider work on projects with higher wages.

As more projects have been announced in Victoria and pressures have increased on the workforce doing the heavy lifting, the RTBU approached V/Line to negotiate a deal that would work better for our industry and our members.

For the past several months the RTBU has been negotiating on behalf of V/Line S&C members for a parity deal with Metro. The objective of these negotiations was to ensure RTBU S&C members did not chase high earning project work at the expense of high quality, critical and secure, long term work with V/Line.

The final proposal endorsed by RTBU members delivers skills, security, stability and future capability for the industry, our members and V/Line’s operations.

The key points include:

  • Equal pay for equal work. V/Line S&C members to be paid the same pay rate as their counterparts on the same classification at Metro Trains.
  • All overtime double time
  • Annual leave paid as per roster
  • Off roster public holidays
  • 12 new apprentices
  • 8 days on, 6 days off roster – as in MTM Track

Organiser Bryan Evans recently completed a roadshow of S&C depots where these issues have been widely discussed. Members have spoken loud and clear, voting unanimously to endorse the RTBU’s proposal.

Despite initially agreeing to the intent of the RTBU’s claims, V/Line’s version has fallen short of what is required. As V/Line’s proposal removes several conditions from the package endorsed by RTBU members, V/Line must reconsider the value of their highly skilled and experienced workforce.

RTBU members are determined to secure an outcome that ensures the long term capability of our network. Without this important reform V/Line stands to lose their capacity to effectively perform S&C work into the future.

vline-sc-guys

METRO SIGNAL BOX AUDIT

Cathy Birch
Organiser 

Since starting at the RTBU, I have conducted a signal box audit, which involved visits to every signal box in the Metro network. There are many issues being raised by signallers, which are being addressed by RTBU Delegates at the signalling department monthly meetings.

The matters raised during the audit included issues of safety, comfort and Enterprise Agreement compliance.

Some of these issues are;

  • Getting women’s trousers onto the uniform order form. This was a win for the female signallers in my first month at the RTBU.
  • Signallers have started being trained in the new Safety Critical Communication Standard Operating Procedure which was brought into effect in January 2017.
  • Vacancies in the Signalling grade is a major concern.
    • The signalling department is short staffed and too often members who go off sick can’t be replaced and the signallers on the shifts before and after are then expected to work twelve hours.
    • Signallers routinely work 12 shifts per fortnight. I am in the process of writing to Management about this as it needs to be rectified.
  • Printing safe working circulars is problematic when printers are so old, broken or temperamental and are no longer supported by IT. I am currently in discussions with Management and will continue to report as progress is made.
  • I have also discovered via the Signal Box audit that Signallers at several locations have no basin in the toilet area and major building faults. This is not good enough. I have reported this to Management and to date nothing has been done therefore I have raised it with Luba Grigorovitch to escalate this major issue with PTV.

These are just some of the issues that were raised during the audit, and the RTBU along with Delegates are taking steps forward to resolve and address these issues as soon as possible.

If you are a signaller and were not present when I visited your signal box, feel free to give me a call on 0403 863 869 or send me an email at cathy.birch@rtbuvic.com.au to raise any issues that you believe need to be resolved.

 

TRAINING OF FRONT LINE METRO STAFF

Joe Maisano
Organiser

Currently, Metro is providing training courses like Moving like a Metro, MAYBO, ICE training and Safeworking refresher classes annually however, what is lacking is on the job training.

There are many new phone apps available for use as a part of their work requirements and Metro is currently training front line staff to become trainers on how to use these phone apps. These newly appointed On The Job trainers (OJT) will then train other staff on the job for use.

We have been advised by Metro that the trainers will be named as either Champions, Coaches, Mentors and/or Buddying. Importantly, whatever Metro tell them these roles are, they will continue to be OJTs.

The RTBU sees this as a cheap way of training, however this is not to say that training is not a good concept if done properly. Any form of training that the employer provides that is consistent with their work is good. However, Metro is using these Champions/Mentors/Buddies/Coaches as trainers to train front line staff.

The RTBU is therefore requesting that any form of training that is provided by the front-line staff trainers receive the proper training courses to train staff and receive On The Job Training allowance for completing these tasks on behalf of Metro.

The OJT allowance should be made to any staff member who trains other staff on the job or at any other venue.

I will keep all members updated as this issue develops and we receive answers from management.

MURRAY BASIN RAIL PROJECT

Bryan Evans
Organiser

While on the surface the Murray Basin Rail Project appears an all-round positive affair, under the surface lies a mess of failures.

Some of the positives pitched to the public include offering more regional jobs, opportunities for industry up-skilling and a freight network in desperate need of attention getting the investment it needs to get more freight on rail. But under an industrial magnifying glass it is already evident that this project has unfortunately fallen a victim to a lack of consultation, process, basic common sense, cost cutting and corner cutting methods. Instead of the rainbows and rose gardens the industry expected from such a long awaited investment, it has become the laughing stock of the industry, and for good reason.

McConnell Dowell, in partnership with Martinus Rail were awarded the contract back in July and it’s been a slippery slope since then. The shortcomings are nothing short of catastrophic for members engaged in the project. Amidst a multitude of smaller issues, there are two major flaws in the project.

First are grave health and safety concerns on the job. Due to approximately 400 staff being required, it is generally accepted that many of these will be new-starts with no previous experience working with rail. Reduced experience, combined with McConnell Dowell’s proposed roster, which entails working 27, 10 hour days (with a so called pyjama day in the middle) with an 8 day break on a 6 month project working window, apart from being absolutely outrageous, there is a real threat of serious injury or worse.

Despite V/Line’s declaration that this is indeed a Construction Project, adding insult to injury, McConnell Dowell/Martinus Joint Venture are looking at paying maintenance rates on their $440 million construction project.

If this wasn’t bad enough, it has been brought to the Union’s attention that there are several NSW contractors paying modern award rates on what is meant to be the Victoria State government’s regional infrastructure flagship project.

The RTBU will not accept the exploitation of labour with terrible conditions in an unsafe work environment. V/Line needs to think long and hard before backing this anti-worker agenda.

Wilson Security

Darren Galea
Organiser

For some time now, RTBU members at Wilson Security Luggage Hall Southern Cross have been facing a number of safety issues.

A major issue is the amount of severe abuse received from passengers. Currently Wilson Security have no processes in place to protect workers from members of the public.

Following building pressure from the RTBU, Wilson Security have finally come to the table to begin the process of making this workplace safer via a risk assessment.

The first stage of the risk assessment has been conducted with all the relevant parties present including the RTBU, Victorian Trades Hall Council OHS team, HSRs as well as Wilson Security management.

The second stage of the risk assessment will be finalised in the next fortnight.

We hope to get some sound outcomes from this risk assessment to ensure better safety for our members on the job.