Light At The End Of The Tunnel In Dispute Over Newcastle-Bound Intercity Trains, Pay And Conditions

There may finally be a light at the end of the tunnel in the long-running industrial dispute between the NSW Government and the rail union.

In a mammoth seven hour meeting yesterday the state and the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) hashed out an tentative agreement on pay and conditions, as well as safety upgrades to the new Intercity trains which will run between Newcastle, Sydney, the Blue Mountains and the South Coast. $300 million repairs will be carried out on the fleet before the trains will finally hit the tracks.

NSW RTBU Secretary Alex Claassens says they have finally been given the assurances they needed.

“We’ve actually got a signature on a deed… so that’s a massive step forward for us,” he said.

The Transport Minister David Elliott described the development as a resolution.

“I’m very confident that this dispute is being resolved,” he said.

“The union has got what it wanted obviously and so has the government. That’s what conciliation arbitration is all about.”

The details of a new enterprise agreement are still being worked out ahead of a vote by union members, but Alex Claassens was optimistic of a positive result.

“We are quite comforted by the fact that they gave us a whole bunch of guarantees,” he said.

Both parties will attend arbitration in the Fair Work Commission next month to settle a few items of contention.

A network-wide strike planned for next Friday has been called off – an olive branch of sorts – bringing an end to nearly six months of industrial action on the railways.