Commuters warned as rail chaos predicted

Light Rail Stock Images
Light rail commuters have been warned about expected disruptions. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

There are worries Vivid crowds could be affected with Sydney’s light rail network set to come to a standstill for 24 hours.

Workers are expected to strike on Wednesday amid an intensifying pay dispute between the union and the tram operator.

Commuters will face ongoing disruptions to their travel from Tuesday as tram drivers run services below the speed limit, refuse to work overtime and decline to don uniform in the pursuit of improved pay and conditions.

Light Rail Stock Images
Light rail services across Sydney will be impacted from Tuesday, with a 24-hour stoppage slated for Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Bianca De Marchi

Industrial action is then expected to escalate with a 24-hour stoppage planned for Wednesday, coinciding with Vivid Festival celebrations.

Services on the L1 line from Dulwich Hill to Central Station, alongside L2 and L3 routes from Circular Quay to Randwick and Kingsford, respectively, will be disrupted.

The Rail, Bus and Tram Union (RBTU) and French transport giant Transdev, the operator of Sydney’s light rail network, are currently locked in bargaining negotiations over a new workplace agreement.

While Transdev has offered its workforce a four-year 18 per cent pay boost, RBTU members have voted “overwhelmingly” to reject the deal, the union said on Monday, as the offer failed to adequately address the rising cost of living.

The crowds are expected to be impacted at Vivid by the rail halt.
The crowds are expected to be impacted at Vivid by the rail halt.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW tram and bus division secretary David Babineau said the state’s light rail workers have been “left with no option” other than to push ahead with the planned industrial action.

“We can’t have light rail workers in a situation where they’re going to work unwell and putting commuters and others at risk because they don’t have enough sick days,” Mr Babineau said.

“Nor can we agree to a wage deal that doesn’t come close to accounting for the huge cost of living increases we’ve seen lately.”

RTBU NSW tram and bus division secretary David Babineau said Transdev’s offer had not adequately addressed the increased cost of living. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles

While the union has not delineated the wage increase it is demanding, it has requested the number of sick days be increased to 15, up from the 10 days outlined in the former enterprise agreement brokered by the RTBU and Transdev which lapsed late last year.

Transdev Sydney managing director Arsene Durand-Raucher said the transport operator was working hard to minimise the impact to customers caused by the industrial action.

“Customers should plan ahead and consider alternate public transport options from this Tuesday or, if possible, avoid non-essential tram travel,” Mr Durand-Raucher said.

“We remain hopeful that we can reach a resolution and avoid unnecessary disruption.”

It is understood RTBU delegates and Transdev will hold further bargaining negotiations on Tuesday.