Metro drivers to strike

 
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
If Metro was genuine they would have started negotiating in december and the agreement could have been signed off...done and dusted, but no they are a pack of smeg*holes who want to screw the workers to gain more profit for sharholders, get their bonuses from dishonest operating (short runs and station skipping) every friday we get a metro newsletter only to see page after page of managers getting awards for this and that and the foot sloggers, the people that actually run the trains,......the drivers, signallers, station staff get stuff all appreciation.
hot-axle-box
How is this different to any other Aussie worker right now whose wages are being pushed down by forces beyond their control? Do you really think you are special with being pushed harder and harder for less and less money? It's happening all over the country and to EVERYONE.

And you can fling all the insults you want at me but longer term, if the Chinese FTA gets passed into law, then Metro will be legally allowed to import and train their own qualified staff to run our train network. If you think 'that won't happen' then take a look around - it's already going on. Transfield recently sacked their entire Victorian power line staff and replaced them with overseas workers on visas - it happened overnight.

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  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Confirmed on abc radio. Metro drivers have voted to strike.

it is going to cause issues for me to work. I start early and trains will not be running until 7am is what they the media state.

Make the trains driverless.
lynne kramme
Sure, can we make the passengers brainless?
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
The problems of the EU is due to the EU letting basket case economies such as Bulgaria and Romania join. Germany is still doing well according to my sister and brother in law who regularly visits the place. Berlin was part of the old GDR may explain why the city has not recovered even after 40 years.
mejhammers1
Very true the size of the European Union has grown out of control, taking lower rank Countries that have economies that are not of the same page as the founding EU Countries, and under the scheme of things the rich counties have to share their wealth and jobs with the poorer countries (Greece has behaved like a school kid been given a limitless credit card, and didn't understand they are required to pay It off)

Big business In Germany are doing well because they have so many willing employees to do their work, so they can call the shots of what they are willing to pay employees.

People seeking work In Berlin (the poorest State of Germany) have to pretty much put In a tender for how much Income their willing to be paid to do a certain job (businesses must love this arrangement)

West Berlin was not part of the GDR/DDR ("an island of capitalism in a sea of communism" was the term commonly used)
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Trains on the Hurstbidge Line today were running approximately 8 minutes behind schedule.  Tomorrow should be a nightmare as the last train from Hurstbridge for the morning will be 9.04am with the next train from flinders street to Hurstbridge being after 3pm that day.  Trains will take some time to get back into the rhythm of the peak.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
....
People seeking work In Berlin (the poorest State of Germany) have to pretty much put In a tender for how much Income their willing to be paid to do a certain job (businesses must love this arrangement)
Nightfire
It's already going on in Melbourne - walk along the Chapel Street cafe strip - I guarantee you NOBODY working in those places in getting anything near award; it's loaded with students (local and foreign) and backpackers who are generally willing to work for $10 an hour (or less).

This is what I'm trying to get across to hot-axle-box: I think they have every right to go on strike for better money but they're fighting a losing battle and in the longer term they put themselves at risk of being replaced with foreign labour. Our government has orchestrated a war on wages and conditions deliberately because they want to break the (minority of) workers who are still in unions but also because they view it as the key to our being able to compete longer term on a global stage.

The labour provisions in the Chinese Free-Trade Agreement are particularly strong and it will mean that wholly-Chinese owned businesses in Australia (like farms or construction sites) will be permitted to import their own labour force not subject to Aussie awards or conditions. It's being done deliberately so that Aussie workers will have to lower their wages to compete. We're in a race to the bottom now and even people with incredibly strong unions like doctors and police will find in the long term that they are not immune from the threat of replacement by non-union workers.

And it's happened before in our country - in the 1920's the conservative government of Stanley Melbourne Bruce supported big business to cut the wages of striking coal miners by deploying the military to shoot at the picketers; the government believed that in hard economic times that supposedly high worker wages were the cause (sounds familiar?) so there was a push across the board to cut wages everywhere. Things were so bad that the police - traditionally the most conservative of unionised workers - actually went on a serious strike and we had riots and looting in here Melbourne.

Fast forward ninety years and this time the Tories are much more subtle about the attack on wages - they're flooding the labour market with indentured foreign labour who won't complain if they are grossly underpaid and soon (probably next year) big Chinese companies won't even need to get permission to import entire workforces into the country; they'll be automatically entitled to do it without having to look locally.

I have a lot of sympathy for Aussie workers who are trying to push back against the attack on wages and conditions but I just think in the longer term it's hopeless given our government's policy.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I would stand by the term "Unions are so out of touch with reality"

Statistics show that most Australians are employed by small businesses, wages and workplace conditions are set by the Government (businesses may pay a bit more to reward and retain valuable staff)  
Unions play little or no roll what so ever !

I have worked In both small business workplaces and union workplaces, and there Is a significant difference between them !

Union workplace, conditions are very rosy, workers are spoilt and people complain about the most minor of things (brand of milk In the fridge, cost of rego, utilities, the companies screwing them over, xyz company on the other side of town Is paying their workers more, etc)
All workers (even the ones the spend all day hiding) enjoy above Inflation pay rises year In year out.

Small business you would easily be expected to work twice as hard for half the pay and get no little sweaters on the side, no one complains much (If you don't like the company, leave and find another job !)  
Pay rises are very hard to come by (you have to earn them)

Interesting with the Government adds promoting the China FTA, the loosely worded "good for Australian Jobs" the meaning of that Is very flexible !
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
I would stand by the term "Unions are so out of touch with reality"
Nightfire
No - I think that unions have every right to be fighting for more money and better conditions for their members. But it's very hard for me - as someone who has experienced deteriorating conditions in my own industry over the years, simply because of increased competition from new graduates and overseas entrants - to have sympathy for train drivers who are (on the surface of it) asking for a very generous increase in wages at time of extremely low inflation.

Melbourne is an extremely expensive city to live in and to try and pay a mortgage (or rent) in - but on the other hand train drivers are relatively lucky that Metro hasn't tried any stunts yet like other big employers already have and bought in foreign replacements en masse.

It's a dog-eat-dog race to the bottom and nobody is immune.

Interesting with the Government adds promoting the China FTA, the loosely worded "good for Australian Jobs" the meaning of that Is very flexible !
Nightfire
Just look at who is promoting it - big agribusiness, big miners, big construction outfits. The writing is on the wall for people like the CFMEU, they simply won't be allowed onto those (effectively) Chinese national work-sites - projects employing Aussies simply won't be able to compete. We already have 1 in 3 adults unemployed in parts of Melbourne (City of Hume, City of Dandenong) - what on earth is the government going to do with all these huge piles of newly unemployed miners and construction workers!

I tell anyone I meet under 30 that they should leave Australia while they can - there is absolutely no future here for young people.
  I'm on the train Beginner

I concur with the above, it is politically unacceptable for the government to allow the union to win this one in the current economic climate.
My cousins partner is a driver on the Central Line on the tube and Metro have been scouting around the tube depots calling for expressions of interest to move to Melbourne on 457 visas.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
I concur with the above, it is politically unacceptable for the government to allow the union to win this one in the current economic climate.
My cousins partner is a driver on the Central Line on the tube and Metro have been scouting around the tube depots calling for expressions of interest to move to Melbourne on 457 visas.
I'm on the train
If that is the case then perhaps it is politically acceptable for fear of job losses?
  712M Chief Commissioner

V/Line has advised that during the industrial action trains will not be stopping at any Metro stations except Southern Cross.

Limited train replacement buses will run terminating at the edge of the CBD with pax to transfer to trams to reach their destinations.
  ARodH Chief Train Controller

Location: East Oakleigh, Vic
Understandable as Metro is apparently going to be 'locking the gates' at a number of stations, some of them being what V/line typically stop at. Though considering the mods done for metcard and myki, actually doing so is impossible without deploying temporary fencing.
  I'm on the train Beginner

I don't think that Joe Citizen would care if the Train Drivers lost their job, to them they are perceived as overpaid horizontal lift attendants. London tube drivers have been driving up and down the same line for 150 years with no apparent side effects, for a lot less money and would jump at the current Metro offer with 457 visas and housing assistance. The tube drivers have their own dispute at the moment over rosters and the night tube and a lot want out.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
But it's very hard for me - as someone who has experienced deteriorating conditions in my own industry over the years, simply because of increased competition from new graduates and overseas entrants - to have sympathy for train drivers who are (on the surface of it) asking for a very generous increase in wages at time of extremely low inflation.
Don_Dunstan
IT isn't all about the money. As I said earlier, if all that had changed was the pay offer, I suggest the agreement would have been accepted months ago.

However......

Some of the conditions Metro offered include:
  • Longer shift lengths
  • poorer overtime provisions
  • dispute resolution procedures which ask to shift more power to managers
  • sectorised running
  • unwillingness to introduce a robust and equal trauma leave scheme.

So, if you are being asked to work longer shifts away from home, why should you not be compensated for it, notwithstanding you may be doing the same annual hours? The company is asking for something, what are they offering to get you to agree to it? Carrot and stick....
IF they are removing overtime provisions, yet still 'expect' Driver's to actually work overtime, why should they not fight to keep what they currently have? Trauma leave? At PN you got 2 days off if you killed someone.. However, that was a carryover from the EBA years ago, and you could take much longer if you went off sick with a note from your GP/Psych, but the minimum PN was obligated to give was a mere 2 days.

Sectorised running is a hard one. Generally speaking, most Driver's enjoy what they do. Some are simply in it for the money, of course, but most of us like playing trains. Let's say you're a chef, you're good at your job, and proudly enjoy serving up a 3-course meal to a diner. But now Management has decided that, although you're qualified in the whole kitchen, all you can do is flip a steak. Chef 2 over there -> will cook the veges, Chef 3 over yonder -> will plate up and the Work Experience Boy will carry the plate to the diner.

Bit of a slap in the face isn't it? But the side effects of this also include fewer opportunities for overtime, as presumably it'll go to Sector A Driver's and if you're in Sector B, even though you're on your RDO's, you're outta luck. Personally, I enjoy learning a new road, as it breaks up the monotony and you actually have to think about what you're doing. For the same reason I enjoy work trains, or a shorter than usual rake, as you have to think about what to do to get a smooth ride. IT's a challenge, and when it pays off the results are satisfying. But if all you're going to be doing is A-B-A-B-A and sign off, where's the skill in that? Where's the reward for the effort someone has put in in learning the entirety of the Melbourne network?

It isn't always about the money folks. There are several other factors at play.
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
Are journalists paid to pretend to be stupid ?  An ambit claim is just that, a first position in a bargaining process.  Of course you argue for more than you are prepared to accept.  Secondly, the media are not reporting on work conditions and how changes here will change jobs, the work environment and the service to customers.  

In so many industries, it now seems to be about deskilling the workforce to make it easier to train replacements and justify paying less. Cutting costs is a big focus of businesses, as it is easier to cut costs and services than grow the business.

In a number of areas we have seen that when a government service or asset is transferred to private management, the first step is to find a way of reducing maintenance costs or cutting the level of service (but within the "rules" of the contract).

Of course, as long as CEOs are paid bonuses for cutting staff costs, they will focus on that.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
A strange and eerie feeling as I look at the Albion cameras which have an absence of metro services over the past hour.  Last Metro service through Albion was 09.24.

https://www.railpage.com.au/flickr/tag/Railpage:railcam=10
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Bit of a slap in the face isn't it?
KRviator
As I've said before, I have a lot of sympathy for the loss of conditions - I know that's the real reason for the industrial action.

But if I was to put my Abbott government hat on I would say to you that it's a free market and if things are not peachy where you are working any longer you are always free to go out and get one of Joe Hockey's 'better jobs' where conditions are not being squeezed by some b*stard multinational.

We are living in really extraordinary times in Australia. The conditions that were fought for by unionised workforces in the late 19th century are being progressively undone by the flooding of the labour market with cheaper imported foreign workers and the introduction of completely 'flexible' conditions that can be bartered away by the employers. Again, Abbott would say that it's for your own good and that there's no way we can compete with Asia without complete deregulation of the labour market and the subsequent falls in wages/conditions.

I have a lot of sympathy for the stripping of conditions in your workplace but really it's the wave of the future - voters showed at the last election that they wanted Tones and this radical labour market agenda is one thing they've been able to deliver on in spades. Believe me, I've had a few jobs where the conditions are purposely changed to make it less enjoyable and I know exactly how you feel.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
The difference with Metro though, is being a relatively specialised industry/area allows their staff a bit more teeth in the fight to keep their conditions.

IT is one thing to import pilots to fill a hole, as happened in '89, afterall, once you've flown one VOR or ILS approach, you've flown them all, training across the aviation industry, charts, etc is standardised, but you can't just bring in a new Driver, Signaller or train controller and expect things to be back to normal in a week or three. The ONRSR would never allow strikebreakers to fill in an operational role with so little training, and, rightly or wrongly, they have to be trained to an approved standard to crew a train.

That the staff voted 98% to take action, and the FWC granted protection to such action shows, to me at least, that they have a valid argument.

Whether they will ultimately win it remains to be seen, however.
  locojoe67 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Gen X purgatory/urban Joh-land
* Are journalists paid to pretend to be stupid ?

They might not be pretending.

* can we make the passengers brainless?

Done. They're all holding phones.

*I tell anyone I meet under 30 that they should leave Australia

I tell them to get vocationally trained. A uni degree is mostly pointless, outside vocationally specific courses like nursing or teaching or stem. Nothing is guaranteed, but after having had more than one career ruined by meddling unions, you need to be flexible. Unfortunately, three hundred thousand immigrants annually and market restrictions make changing lines of work unnecessarily harder than ever.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Metro services back running via Albion at 15:23

https://www.railpage.com.au/railcams/albion/photo/20507142654
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
To this day, I still want somebody to demonstrate how privatisation of the railways has actually benefitted me - a member of the public who has never worked in the transport industry. It certainly hasn't done the Metro workforce any favours.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
To this day, I still want somebody to demonstrate how privatisation of the railways has actually benefitted me - a member of the public who has never worked in the transport industry. It certainly hasn't done the Metro workforce any favours.
Valvegear
When you find out could you let me know too, please?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
To this day, I still want somebody to demonstrate how privatisation of the railways has actually benefited me - a member of the public who has never worked in the transport industry. It certainly hasn't done the Metro workforce any favours.
Valvegear
In the case of Melbourne's network, it has given you a new company to curse at every decade. It gets tiring blaming the government for every woe that betides you.
  don_dunstan The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Adelaide proud
Unfortunately, three hundred thousand immigrants annually and market restrictions make changing lines of work unnecessarily harder than ever.
locojoe67
Some universities are selling students absolute rubbish qualifications that have no marketability - vocational qualifications have proven to be a much better investment for those who did that.
  DirtyBallast Chief Commissioner

Location: I was here first. You're only visiting.
This.

https://mtmmemes.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/its-not-just-a-pay-dispute/
  Roadmaster Locomotive Driver

To this day, I still want somebody to demonstrate how privatisation of the railways has actually benefitted me - a member of the public who has never worked in the transport industry. It certainly hasn't done the Metro workforce any favours.
Valvegear
That's a really interesting question and it is hard to think of a black and white answer that would satisfy everyone. However, one benefit *might* be the money saved that would otherwise have been spent if the government had not privatised the rail operation. If you accept that a private operator will run the system more efficiently than a government operator (and I am not saying that either one is necessarily superior in this regard), the benefit is in the saving of taxpayer money not spent since privatisation. How much money is that? I don't know the figure, but assuming there has been such a saving that money might have saved on government borrowing or been put towards other government services that the community also values.

There are also those impossible to measure intangibles - is 'customer service' better (are the people selling tickets friendlier than they used to be?); are the trains cleaner? Has the move away from a government bureaucracy resulted in an overall attitudinal improvement that would not have occurred under a government owner? Is the private operator more responsive to public demand? (It seems to me Metro generally just does what the government/PTV tells them to do).

How you feel about those things will come down to individual perception and opinion.

Personally, I suspect that a private operator is giving the taxpayer a better financial deal than government operation (and any government would be silly if they weren't trying to achieve that outcome) and that is where you (assuming you are a taxpayer) have reaped a benefit. How much value, if any, you place on that benefit is one of those 'how do I want my taxes spent' kind of questions. If you would rather the interests of the Metro workforce be the prime consideration when it comes to government transport spending you might need to convey that view to your local MP because I suspect the government (past and present) would say they are thinking more of the broader interests of taxpayers. I think Premiers since Jeff Kennett onwards have believed the taxpayer is financially better off with rail under a private operation. Maybe that idea needs to be challenged?

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