Rail workers have voted to go ahead with their strike action. Picture: Christian Gilles
Rail workers have voted to go ahead with their strike action. Picture: Christian Gilles

MELTDOWN: Rail strike set to cause maximum chaos in Sydney

A SYDNEY train strike that is predicted to send the city into total meltdown will go ahead after the union voted against a deal that would have given their workers a 2.75 per cent pay rise and $1000 bonuses.

The Rail, Trains and Bus Union, which has more than 6000 members, revealed it had voted no to suspend industrial action.

It comes as concerns have been raised about the reliability of a text message system which was activated last night.

Members were asked whether they thought the deal was good enough to suspend planned industrial action which is scheduled to start tomorrow with a ban on overtime. A non-response was counted as a "no vote".

But yesterday a number of members reported on social media that they never received a text.

NSW RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens said his members had "voted overwhelming" against suspending the strike - but admitted the text system hadn't worked as planned.

"You tell me how to do it better," he told reporters.

"I was forced into this position."

Mr Claassens said the result showed it was not about pay but conditions with members wanting to be assured they would get regular days off.

Sydney is set for rail chaos from tomorrow. Picture: Christian Gilles
Sydney is set for rail chaos from tomorrow. Picture: Christian Gilles

The 24-hour strike on Monday will come after four days of reduced services as drivers refuse to work overtime starting from tomorrow.

Fewer than 6 per cent of NSW Rail, Tram and Bus Union members voted to suspend planned industrial action over a conditions and wages dispute.

"Unfortunately my members have overwhelmingly decided that the offer on the table is nowhere near good enough and our industrial action will continue," Mr Claassens said.

Workers had to reply 'yes' to the text message to support calling off a proposed 24-hour strike on Monday.

However many workers posted on the RTBU Facebook page this morning saying they were still to receive the text, hours before the midday deadline.

"I would like to know why this has been sent out as an SMS. There are many of us on leave at the moment that do not have our work phones with us. Also how are we going to be able to vote if we are on leave," one said.

"I didn't get one either. What number do we call to make sure our phone numbers are right," another asked.

With more than 9000 workers due to stop work on Monday, the RBTU confirmed that about 6500 members had received the text.

Fewer than 400 members voted to call off the strike.

Minister Andrew Constance warned of disruption tomorrow. Picture: Jonathan Ng
Minister Andrew Constance warned of disruption tomorrow. Picture: Jonathan Ng

Sydney Trains has launched an urgent court hearing in the Fair Work Commission this afternoon to prevent the industrial action.

The application has been adjourned until 5pm before Senior Deputy President Jonathan Hamberger Commissioner by Sydney Trains and NSW Trains, seeks to: " ... suspend protected industrial action, cooling off ..."

Sydney law firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers has announced it seeks to prevent the rail strike with an urgent hearing in the Fair Work Commission this afternoon.

Rail workers have voted to go ahead with their strike action. Picture: Christian Gilles
Rail workers have voted to go ahead with their strike action. Picture: Christian Gilles

It has a joint hearing with the NSW Treasurer and Sydney Trains.

David Bates from the firm said the action was launched because the strike was "excessive".

"It's not in the public interest," he said before entering the hearing.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is urging commuters to check timetables and to avoid travelling during peak hour.

Transport Minister Andrew Constance says trains will operate on a Saturday schedule, cutting services across the state on Thursday and Australia Day on Friday with services reduced from 2900 to 1600.

"Tomorrow is going to be disruptive," he said on Wednesday.



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