The longstanding dispute between the railway union and the NSW government is set to escalate again, with the union poised to shut down Opal card readers at a cost to the government millions.
Readers will be shut down for the afternoon peak starting Thursday after members of the rail, tram and bus unions voted for protected industrial action last week.
The union announced on Monday that the readers would be switched off daily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. – indefinitely.
Watch the latest news on Channel 7 or stream for free on 7plus >>
RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens said the union hopes to cause a major headache for the government while keeping commuters on the sidelines.
The move is the latest in a protracted and bitter dispute between the government and the rail union, in which the parties are trying to negotiate a new operating contract after the previous one expired.
They are also at odds over a mothballed fleet of Korean-built intercity trains that the union says are unsafe to operate.
“Railway workers are committed to giving commuters free travel because, frankly, they deserve it after what the NSW Government has done to them,” Claassens said.
“Everyone is fed up with the ongoing rail dispute but we have no choice but to do whatever is necessary for as long as possible to force the NSW Government to provide safe trains for commuters and fair wages and conditions for workers. ”
It has been estimated that closing the gates 24 hours a day was costing the government between $1.5 million and $2 million in lost revenue each day.
The measure would cost the government about $50 million if the shutdown lasted for a month.
Earlier this year, the union also attempted to slap the government in the waist by keeping ticket offices open.
The industrial action was largely unsuccessful, as most commuters continued tapping and paying for train tickets.
Premier Dominic Perrottet said last month people were not interested in the union’s tactics and just wanted to get on with their day.
“The reason (the union) moved to shutting down the machines because the majority of people in our city have been tapping and tapping by leaving the gates open,” he said.
Treasurer Matt Kean last month accused the union of using the traveling public as political toys.
“This has to stop,” he said.
“We will continue to stand up for the people of this state and denounce their disgraceful behavior.”
https://7news.com.au/news/nsw/opal-card-readers-to-be-switched-off-as-stoush-between-rail-union-and-nsw-government-escalates-c-8567843 Sydney trains: Opal card readers shut down as collaboration between railway union and NSW government escalates