Train drivers and other rail staff have been offered a new enterprise agreement by the Marshall Liberal Government, which includes pay rises of 2 per cent per annum for 3 years – the same wage increase accepted by their fellow tram drivers in May.
The ‘exceptionally fair and reasonable’ offer – which covers 353 employees – also includes work, health and safety initiatives to prevent driver fatigue, special leave with pay provisions and maintains existing employment conditions.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said the offer was consistent with agreements reached recently with other public sector unions, including nurses, midwives and tram drivers, and urged the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) to recommend it to their members.
“The Government recognises the valuable work of our train drivers and other rail staff in contributing to our resolve to provide commuters with better, safer and more frequent rail services,” said Mr Lucas.
“And at a time when workers right across the country are fighting hard to keep their jobs, while others are having to take pay cuts to maintain employment, this represents an exceptionally fair and reasonable offer.
“We’ve made it crystal clear to the union bosses that their fanciful 4 per cent per annum wage claim for 4 years is not only unaffordable it’s completely out of touch with community expectations during a global pandemic – the greatest economic challenge of our time.
“It’s pleasing that a breakaway group of about 100 train drivers and other rail staff, represented by Gary Collis of Australian Employment Alliance, have publicly rejected the union’s 4 per cent per year claim, saying they would be prepared to accept a more reasonable 2 per cent per annum pay rise.
“This offer is also consistent with an enterprise agreement reached with tram drivers – members of the very same union – who in May this year agreed to a 2 per cent per annum pay increase.
“It also comes just months after nurses and midwives overwhelmingly voted to accept a 2 per cent per annum pay increase, and SA Water employees voted to accept a 1.2 per cent per annum pay rise.”
Additionally, employees will be offered a 3-year employment guarantee and a $15,000 payment if they transfer to the new rail service provider, Keolis Downer Pty Ltd by 31 January 2021 (significantly less than the union’s claim of $60,000 per person).
This is consistent with previous practice under the former Labor government who, in 2017, awarded facilities management staff, such as cleaners, in SA Health a $35,000 incentive payment to resign and accept employment at Spotless.
“We encourage the union bosses to recommend this offer to their members and immediately rule out any strike action that will only serve to disrupt hardworking commuters,” said Mr Lucas.
The offer is intended to be put to a ballot of members by early next month.