Early morning commuters have faced packed trains and long waits between services as disruptions begin ahead of Monday’s planned strike.
Sydney is set for a chaotic Thursday morning as hundreds of thousands of people have their daily commute disrupted by the train workers’ industrial action.
Today marks the first day affected by Rail Train and Bus Union industrial action, which is set to peak on Monday January 29 with a 24-hour strike.
Early morning commuters have faced packed trains and long waits between services as disruptions begin ahead of Monday’s planned strike (pictured are Thursday morning commuters)
Sydney is set for a chaotic Thursday morning as hundreds of thousands of people have their daily commute disrupted by the train workers’ industrial action (pictured is Penrith station on Thursday morning)
Today marks the first day affected by Rail Train and Bus Union industrial action, which is set to peak on Monday January 29 with a 24-hour strike (pictured are commuters packed on to a train travelling from Penrith to the Sydney CBD)
Services on Thursday and Australia Day on Friday will be cut by nearly half, with trains operating on a Saturday schedule.
Commuters have been warned to avoid peak hour travel and to stay home if possible.
No trains will run across New South Wales on Monday and all stations will be closed if the 24-hour strike goes ahead.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union members voted to turn down an offer from Sydney Trains to accept a deal including a 2.75 per cent pay increase and free travel on Metro transport.
The NSW government is making a last-ditch effort to stop a 24-hour rail strike on Monday as commuters already start facing disruption from a limited train service.
The state government late on Wednesday launched legal proceedings in the Fair Work Commission to stop the 24-hour strike scheduled for Monday and an indefinite ban on overtime work.
Sydney is set for a chaotic morning as hundreds of thousands of people will have their daily commute disrupted by a train workers’ strike
The application was adjourned until Thursday morning, just as the first disruptions of the overtime ban begin to hit the system.
Less than six per cent of union members voted to accept the offer, according to Nine News.
Services on Thursday will be slashed from 2900 to 1600 trains, beginning from midnight.
About 500 buses are being brought in to help with the lack of trains.
Sydney commuters are being asked to avoid non-essential travel to avoid putting the skeleton network under too much strain.
Trains will run every 15 minutes instead of every eight minutes during peak times on Thursday.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has asked commuters to check timetables before travelling, and to avoid using trains during peak hours before and after work.
Sydney commuters are being asked to avoid non-essential travel to avoid putting the skeleton network under too much strain
Rail, Tram and Bus Union secretary Alex Claassens told 2GB the strike has ‘never been about money’.
‘I’m asking for the minister [Andrew Constance] to come to the table,’ he said.
‘He’s the guy that’s responsible for this mess, he needs to be the guy to come and clean it up.
‘We did what we possibly could. My personal credibility was on the line here… if that ain’t good enough, well, bad luck.’
Mr Claassen told Sky News he ‘can only deal with the cards as I get them’.
‘The government is saying on one hand that they’re going to come to the table and fix it; on the other hand they’re trying to take us to court,’ he told Sky News.
The rail union is being criticised for using a text message process to vote on the strike action.
Texts were sent by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning for their response to the offer from Sydney Trains.
The message read: ‘Is the offer on the table good enough that you want to temporarily stop your industrial action?’
‘Respond ‘YES’ if you think we should temporarily stop the action. DO NOT RESPOND if you think the action this week should go ahead. No response = a ‘NO’ vote.’
On the RTBU New South Wales Facebook page, members said the voting system was confusing.
The union sent 6,101 messages to members and received 362 ‘yes’ responses.
NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said it’s too late to stop disruptions across the network on Thursday.
‘I guess the message is clear. Call off your strike, put the people of NSW first and allow the workforce to be consulted on what has been described as a reasonable offer for over 9,500 employees of Sydney Trains,’ Mr Constance told Sky News.
A strike right across Sydney is also planned for Monday.
Texts were sent by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning for their response to the offer from Sydney Trains
Australia Day is also set to be chaotic as T5 Cumerland Line and T6 Carlingford Line services have also been cancelled.
A shuttle train service will run between Blacktown and Richmond on Friday, while buses will replace trains between Clyde and Carlingford.
Additional services will also be available to supplement those on Australia Day events at Sydney Olympic Park after 4pm.
Sydney Trains launched a court hearing in the Fair Work Commission this afternoon, the Daily Telegraph reported.
David Bates from law firm Harmers Workplace Lawyers said the action was taken because the strike was ‘excessive’.