Recently I became aware that Metro has conjured up a plan to centralise control desks throughout the Clifton Hill station group following new contracts between the State Government, Public Transport Victoria and Metro Trains. This decision has been made without consultation with the RTBU and will have serious direct and indirect consequences to members.
The direct consequences will be the loss of roughly 30 jobs at Reservoir station, Clifton Hill station, Eltham station and Heidelberg station. These jobs are full-time, well paid and a significant part of their community.
Other consequences of the closures include a decrease in security and safety at stations along the line and a decrease in upskilling for staff. We also expect to see wider impacts on morale at the stations.
The indirect consequences are just as serious and have implications for us all. In making this decision without consultation, Metro has blatantly breached the Metro Trains Melbourne Rail Operations Agreement 2015–2019 (the Agreement). This constitutes a complete disregard for the industrial relations system and sets a dangerous precedent for future behaviour from Metro with regard to the law.
Metro cannot be allowed to unilaterally make major changes to our members employment. This is why we are fighting back and insisting that the laws and protections that we have in place be abided by.
The RTBU has written to Metro notifying them that this issue is now formally in dispute. This means that they cannot progress any of their changes until the dispute is resolved. I have also written to the State Public Transport Minister pointing out that the State Government’s policy is to avoid job cuts and redundancies and that this situation makes a mockery of that commitment.
I am told that the Minister is currently on leave but I have requested that she meet with me at her earliest available opportunity so that I can explain the serious consequences this situation has on our members.
The Minister and Metro ought to be concerned about the welfare of our members who are reporting that they are stressed about their job security. However, if they choose to disregard the impact on people, we will call them out on their behavior loudly and publicly.
Having visited Reservoir Station and Clifton Hill Station last week, with meetings scheduled at Eltham and Heidelberg Station this week I am pleased to see the membership active and ready for the fight which lies ahead.
As per usual, this battle will not be an easy one to win, however the first step is remaining united in the fight. We must continue to defend our hard-won rights and conditions to ensure the future of the Rail industry remains strong.