Over the last few weeks V/Line has been pushing for drastic changes via amendments to the V/Line Rail Operations Enterprise Agreement 2015–2019. We are deeply concerned about the proposal. Firstly because of the changes proposed to the EA, but also because of the approach taken by V/Line.
V/Line has proposed 7 variations that will remove approximately 3 pages worth of enforceable conditions, as well as changes to other clauses. Once these conditions are removed, V/Line can implement programs they feel benefit business operations. We believe the changes are very likely to result in de-skilling drivers’ classifications, but they will impact other employees too.
The approach taken by V/Line has been an extraordinarily hostile one. The first we heard about it was through a letter that the V/Line CEO Mr Pinder wrote to the RTBU over the Christmas/ New Year period. Mr Pinder advised us that they were seeking changes to the EA and notified us that the voting period will be in early February 2018. We received no information, other than the variations sought to specified clauses.
On meeting with V/Line, we were again given very little information. Instead we were literally asked to encourage members to vote in favour of the proposal and to take a “leap of faith” and to trust V/Line management.
The proposal is extraordinarily odd, especially given there was no prior consultation and also given there is less than a year before we are due to commence bargaining for a new agreement.
V/Line talks about increasing the skills set of employees. However, we suspect that the implications will be negative for all classifications. For example, shunters and conductors may be expected to take on intermittent driving duties during usual down time without extra pay. Ultimately, employees who are not able to drive trains may be viewed in the future as “not flexible” and therefore may be forced out of their job.
The reality is that we have no reason to trust V/Line. V/Line could have approached us openly and in good faith rather than seeking to ram through changes without any genuine consultation.
More broadly, this approach calls into question the strength of our bargaining system. A key aspect of our system is our ability to secure legally enforceable conditions in an Enterprise Agreement. We use our industrial strength and our ability to take protected industrial action to secure fair and enforceable conditions. V/Line is attempting to sidestep the threat of protected industrial action and good faith bargaining requirements to delete elements of the agreement that they don’t like.
This technique can be employed by any company who has bargained for an Enterprise Agreement and then decides that they don’t like the conditions they are legally bound by.
Unfortunately, V/Line only needs to secure a yes vote from half of those employees who participate in the vote. This means that if only 10 people participate in the vote, V/Line needs only 6 people to vote yes.
They can do this, it is frighteningly legal. But we can vote NO. So I urge V/Line employees to exercise your vote and I encourage you to vote NO.
These changes aim to divide us, to pit union members against each other according to our jobs. However, despite our differences we are one union and while we stand together we cannot be defeated!
Together we can and will win.
That this meeting of members from stations across the Metropolitan network;
- Condemns Metro’s latest attack on station staff jobs and whole heartedly supports the motion that has been passed unanimously by RTBU station staff members at the four control desk locations that are currently under threat (Reservoir, Clifton Hill, Heidelberg & Eltham). We condemn Metro for the proposal to shut control desks at these locations, affecting ongoing local jobs which will result in job cuts of over 40 people on this line alone, along with reduction in local safety in local areas. Further, this meeting supports our members in the Clifton Hill group under direct attack from management and authorises actions in support of our members should they be denied at any stage access to RTBU representation and support in line with the current EBA.
- This meeting notes that Metro managements’ failure to respond to the Status quo provisions and to follow the EBA dispute settling provisions is indicative of their arrogance which directly contradicts their stated aims of equity, trust, partnership and service.
- This meeting notes that this project is estimated to cost over $2.5 million dollars in the region, money which could be spent on addressing the chronic understaffing of stations, with 21 stations unstaffed in the Clifton Hill group alone.
- The RTBU remains willing to discuss proposals to improve local control desks located at out stations, through initiatives such as the provision of more cameras, including movable cameras controlled by the operator and more emergency red buttons located at more points on the stations and at bus bays etc. The RTBU does not support the removal of any existing control desk functions and views managements tactics as a threat to all control desks in the Network.
- Calls on the RTBU to ramp up a joint union and community campaign in each of the affected areas, so that the local community is made aware about the threat to jobs in their area and also the threat to safety for passengers at each location and along that line. The campaign is to be coordinated by an action committee consisting of RTBU officials, Delegates and interested members.
- The campaign shall also involve holding rallies and community pickets at the affected control desk stations, commencing on Wednesday 31 January 2018. Local MP’s, members, Delegates, community activists and supporters are to be encouraged to attend.
- Calls on the RTBU to form deputations of Delegates, officials and members to lobby the local State Members of Parliament at each location (MP Richard Wynne, MP Anthony Carbines, MP Vicki Ward & MP Robin Scott). This is to inform them of these drastic changes that are being proposed and that were negotiated last year as part of the MR4 negotiations between Metro, PTV & the State Government, and remind each of these Members of Parliament about Labor’s commitment to safety in the area, along with the commitment of jobs. It should be made clear to each Member of Parliament that the RTBU is serious in ensuring our members jobs are protected and that passenger safety is not put at risk or in any way reduced and that our campaign will continue throughout the year in their electorate in the run up to the next state election.
- Calls on the RTBU Branch Secretary Luba Grigorovitch to demand a meeting with the Minister of Public Transport as a matter of urgency around this matter. That the Branch Secretary also arrange meetings with PTV and VicTrack.
- Instructs Joe Maisano, RTBU Organiser to raise this major issue at the Rail Divisions committee of management meeting and the RTBU executive meeting calling on other grades to help support the Station grades on the attack from Metro management.