Sorry, But NSW Public Transport Won’t Be Free After All Thanks To The Perrottet Government
"The RTBU NSW is fully committed to giving fare free travel to commuters."
Opal card readers across New South Wales will not be turned off on Wednesday after the government challenged the legality of the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU)’s industrial action.
The RTBU announced last week that machines across Sydney would be indefinitely switched off from September 21, which would effectively make public transport free for commuters across the state.
However, the RTBU has since issued a statement confirming that machines will no longer be turned off due to “irrational and illogical threats made by the Transport Minister”.
“Commuters will not be getting free travel from Wednesday. The RTBU NSW is fully committed to giving fare-free travel to commuters and is now considering alternative ways that this can be achieved,” a statement from the RTBU read, asserting that “the government is wrong”.
The decision comes after the NSW Government lodged an application to the Fair Work Commission on Friday night to declare the industrial action as “unprotected.”
“The NSW government lodged a section 418 application in the Fair Work Commission to have the destructive action proposed by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union to turn off or short circuit Opal machines declared ‘unprotected’,” the NSW government said in a statement.
“The application to the independent FWC has been made following legal advice received by the government that the proposed action is prima facie unlawful.”
Unions NSW took to Twitter to allege that the state government “threatened to sue, fine, sack and prosecute union members who turned off Opal gates”, which ultimately led to the decision to withdraw the industrial action.
2) We know that a lot of people are paying attention, so we will provide the context and facts below.
On Friday, the NSW Government threatened to sue, fine, sack and prosecute union members who turned off Opal gates.
— Unions NSW (@unionsnsw) September 18, 2022
The union has been at odds with the state government for months over pay, working conditions and safety concerns for transport workers.
It remains unclear how the ongoing industrial dispute will impact commuters this week after RTBU secretary Alex Claasens asserted that the union will not stop until the matters are resolved.