10 February 2022
I am writing to inform you that after 12 years of representing RTBU Members, I am resigning from the position as Branch Secretary with effect from 22 April 2022 to run for the Labor Party at the Victorian State election in November.
Having tendered my resignation officially at yesterday’s RTBU Branch Executive meeting, the Executive made the decision to appoint Vik Sharma as Branch Secretary effective 23 April. This decision was made with the objective of providing members with continuity, stability and security in the important work that lies ahead in this critical time across our industry.
Recent years have seen our Union go from strength to strength and ensure that public transport is an industry that continues to grow whilst RTBU Officials deliver quality support to Members. To maintain and uphold this standard and ensure your union can smoothly transition, Vik Sharma will hit the ground running. I will be spending the coming weeks supporting Vik’s move from the role of Organiser to Branch Secretary through a comprehensive handover. We have an action packed diary between now and my finishing date.
For those of you that don’t know Vik, he started on-the-job working as an Authorised Officer in 2014 and has since worked for the RTBU as an Industrial Officer and Organiser. He has represented hundreds of members, participated in numerous critical campaigns and understands deeply the RTBU’s culture, values and fighting spirit. Knowing his work ethic, his proven commitment to RTBU Members and his attention to detail, I have every confidence in Vik’s capacity to take on the role of Branch Secretary.
It has been a great honour and privilege to have served you, the Members of the RTBU, over the past 12 years. Together we have fought and won many battles. Over this time I have worked hand-in-hand with many incredible Members, Delegates and Officials.
Proudly we have seen the union grow and modernise, improve representation and services, and establish sound standards of governance and transparency for rank & file Members, all in the midst of the most significant changes our industry has seen since privatisation.
The battles we have fought as a union have been diverse, challenging and have helped us grow stronger as a collective, truly engaging every corner of the network and our membership. During my time as Branch Secretary:
- We stopped V/Line trains at Southern Cross Station to demand justice against indiscriminate sackings
- We brought the network to a standstill through our combined forces across Yarra Trams and Metro Trains standing firm against the attacks from employers and the Government
- We stood with train drivers fighting against Metro’s depot driving attacks and provided strong resistance to rail franchising, privatisation, and deteriorating safety standards across the network
- We put V/Line in their place when they sought to vary their enterprise agreement to undermine the wages and conditions of train drivers and broader job security across the network
- We fought to save the longstanding Ballarat Workshops from closure
- We delivered the 36 hour work week to hundreds of rail employees across workshops and infrastructure
Most recently, the RTBU has worked tirelessly to successfully assist Members to navigate through COVID lockdowns while ensuring transport continued to operate. We focused our efforts on keeping Members employed and safe throughout the pandemic while also delivering pay rises unheard of in most other industries. Nobody saw the true scale of disruption that was to come when the pandemic first landed in Australia, but working across all levels of Government, with the Department and individual companies, in the face of rock bottom patronage figures, we have been able to provide security for Members when it mattered most. During this time, it was you – the Members – who were at the forefront of the general public, keeping the network running – thank you!
While I will continue my advocacy for workers if I am elected to the Victorian parliament, I will remain a Member of the RTBU, making my office available to meet with RTBU Members and local constituents in the electorate of Kororoit. I will work fiercely for you into the future, ensuring our union has a strong voice on Spring Street. We will pursue further opportunities to collaborate and ensure RTBU Members have an advocate and direct voice to Government.
Thank you for all your support over the years. While the decision to move on has been difficult, I will never forget where I came from. I now ask you all to support Vik Sharma in this challenging role going forward.
I will be visiting many work sites between now and my finishing date of April 22, and I look forward to having a chat with you then. Being your Branch Secretary has been my greatest honour – thank you for believing in me and supporting me over the many years.
Victorian Branch Secretary