2023 has begun quite abruptly for Metro Station Staff who have endured many serious events. The rapid return of fine-weather passengers to the rail network has led to several safety issues including a frightening increase in assaults and abuse directed towards station staff.
At Flinders Street Station, station staff have been punched, shoved, or threatened almost daily. These violent interactions are happening much too regularly at barriers, booking offices and on platforms. They are mainly taking place during the day.
In the western area of Flinders station, a new female station assistant was assaulted by an aggressive male passenger. He grabbed her by the neck and slapped the back of her head to intimidate her. No one should have to endure this abuse at their workplace.
As part of the Metro EBA, RTBU station Delegates and HSR’s meet with management for post incident follow ups to provide members access to the Trauma Leave provisions, along with other welfare support. This process was undertaken with the female station assistant to ensure that she got the resources and support that she needed.
These aggressive confrontations have emphasised the urgency to employ new safety measures to protect our members. These precautions may include training station staff to use radios so they can call for assistance. It could also involve having Police presence at barriers when troublesome individuals or groups attempt to re-enter stations. The implementation of these safety measures is currently being discussed and there will be more to report shortly.
The RTBU is committed to campaigning for greater legal deterrence against these abusive interactions and will continue to fight for the safety of our members.
In other news, the RTBU has been holding regular meetings regarding the barrier staffing trial at Flinders Street. This trial significantly extended the presence of station staff at barriers from opening to closing hours. An additional 50 station staff were recruited for this trial period.
After concerns were raised surrounding the impact of the staffing trial on rostered shifts, these were successfully altered to address members concerns.
However, the RTBU and Metro recently entered negotiations after management reduced the scope of the barrier trial period, which limited the number of station staff involved. To resolve this issue, a displacement process of positions outlined by the Metro EBA will be offered to barrier staff in the trial. Weekly meetings between RTBU delegates and Metro management are occurring to oversee this process.
During early January, the RTBU held a meeting between Station Relievers and the SDM in the Southern group. These meetings were mainly conducted online and addressed concerns like the right to apply for 1 week of annual leave or single days, greater roster transparency and the implementation of an annual leave roster.
Metro management requested time to consider the issues that were raised. In a subsequent meeting, they acknowledged the right of station staff to apply for a 1 weeks leave and or single days. This was confirmed in an email that clarified the SM responsibilities in this regard. They also agreed that rostering visibility was an issue and that rosters should reflect the role being covered for annual leave relief purposes.
There is no doubt that Station relievers play a vital role across the system for both annual leave and short-term relief purposes. RTBU members in the Southern group are to be acknowledged for their tenacity in pursuing these important matters.