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Auckland Rail Workers Firm Despite Suspensions

Auckland rail workers say their employers would be better off sorting out alternative services for commuters rather than suspending them.

Members of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union at two major rail employers in Auckland have been suspended following industrial action, which is leading to further disruption.

The two employers are Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) with 45 union workers, and Auckland One Rail (AOR) with more than 500 union workers. CAF maintain Auckland trains and AOR are the operator.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Todd Valster says the Union has been bargaining with AOR for 9 months and CAF for 7 months.

He says the Union has been unable to reach satisfactory bargaining settlements with either of these employers.

RMTU members at CAF overwhelmingly supported industrial action in a secret ballot.

The CAF action started on Tuesday 11 March and comprised of an overtime ban and a refusal to perform corrective maintenance on the trains.

Workers were prepared to do preventive maintenance, says Mr Valster.

He says CAF progressively suspended workers taking action and all four teams have been suspended with no pay.

MBIE facilitated bargaining will be held between RMTU and CAF on Tuesday 18 June.

RMTU members at AOR have also voted in favour of industrial action in a secret ballot.

Industrial action at AOR commenced on Saturday 8 June, including an overtime ban and refusal to work shifts that vary from master roster hours and shift content.

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Mr Valster says after the strike notice was filed, AOR attempted to get an injunction from the Employment Court, but the Employment Court refused the injunction.

“AOR relied on being successful in the Employment Court, so when it came to partial line closures for track maintenance on Sunday, AOR did not have a backup plan to run limited services.”

Mr Valster says AOR had focussed their energy on suspending all of the AOR workers rostered to work on that Sunday.

He says there were two days of MBIE facilitated bargaining between RMTU and AOR last week, and another day planned for Wednesday this week.

Mr Valster says the issue for CAF members is their general wage increase. These members believe they have fallen behind other rail rolling stock maintenance providers.

“For our AOR members, the issues are maintaining weekend work life balance for Locomotive Engineers/Train Drivers, and a lack of certainty that issues to be resolved in working groups during the term of the next Collective Agreement will actually get resolved.”

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