Commuters told to avoid rail travel as Sydney set for week of industrial action chaos

Commuters have been across multiple to avoid traveling on the rail network as Sydney faces a week of chaos with industrial action public sectors.

Residents in NSW are bracing for a series of interruptions as unions plan to take industrial action throughout the week as part of ongoing negotiations with the state government over pay and conditions.

Premier Dominic Perrottet this morning said it was “disappointing” that the rail union had decided to take industrial action.

Trains have been charged workers to 60 kilometers per hour, and some services have been cancelled, as part of four days of industrial action by rail.

About 50 per cent of services will be reduced during peak periods today, with further disruptions planned for the week.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said commuters should avoid all rail travel.

“Leave it for those who really need it,” he said.

Authorities have been forced to reduce timetabled services to between 50 to 75 per cent.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Friday is expected to see the biggest disruption with a ban on using foreign-made trains set to reduce services by about 75 per cent.

The action centers around safety concerns with the new intercity fleet, with the union arguing they are not fit for purpose.

“We have been arguing that this train is unsafe for the past four years,” said Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens.

Mr Perrottet said he had been told by the rail safety authority that the trains were safe and that he wanted them on the track “as quickly as possible”.

“I believe the position of the union is inappropriate when you have the national safety regulator that has come out and said that those trains are safe,” he said.

The NSW government has offered terms of new enterprise agreements for rail workers.

That offer is being considered, but Mr Claasses said unless demands are met “the following week will get even nastier”, he said.

Nurses and midwives stop work

Nurses and midwives from 80 hospitals across NSW will stop work today for between two and 24 hours.

Staff at Liverpool and Bankstown hospitals will stop work for 24 hours, while staff at Westmead, Blacktown, Campbelltown and the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital will walk off the job for 12 hours.

nurses on the streets protesting
Nurses and midwives across NSW participated in industrial action in March.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Hundreds of nurses and midwives will also attend a mass meeting in Town Hall today to decide their next step in a campaign for shift-by-shift ratios.

They will be discussing the NSW government’s offer for pay and conditions and workload pressures.

The NSW government has offered a 3 per cent pay rise for public sector employees including nurses, teachers and paramedics.

NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association acting general secretary, Shaye Candish said addressing staffing ratios was a top priority.

“There is widespread dissatisfaction among our members over the NSW’s refusal to even consider safe staffing ratios,” Ms Candish said.

Mr Perrottet said the government’s wage offer was “fair and reasonable”.

“What is not being presented is that here in NSW we have the highest wage increase anywhere in the country.”

Nurses hold signs while protesting
Healthcare workers have been protesting in Sydney’s CBD.(ABC News: Isaac Nowroozi)
A nurse holding an sos sign
Nurse Robyn Pavloudis protested in Sydney’s CBD today.(ABC News: Tim Swanston)

Nurse Robyn Pavloudis said working in mental heath had been “hell”.

She said she had been assaulted due to staffing ratios, saying, “we aren’t asking for much”.

Teachers in ‘crisis’

Most teachers from public and Catholic schools across NSW and some parts of the ACT will walk off the job for 24 hours on Thursday.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos has called on the government to do more to attract people to the sector.

“This crisis has been caused because of an industrial relations system and failed education policies which see teachers’ salaries now uncompetitive when compared to other professions and a workload that is simply turning people away from teaching,” said Mr Gavrielatos.

Members of both unions will rally in Macquarie Street in Sydney’s CBD on Thursday, as well as in some regional locations across NSW and the ACT.

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