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(en) SPARKS No.110 April/May 2003, The anarcho-syndicalist Rank and File Transport Workers Pape http://members.fortunecity.com/sparksweb/index.htm I. (1/2)

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Fri, 23 May 2003 10:09:52 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

Welcome to another edition of Sparks. Ominous and menacing clouds
are building up above Pacific National, the new company which was
created following the privatisation of Freight Corp. which was
enthusiastically supported by the RTBU (Rail Tram & Bus Union)
executive and particularly Nick Lewocki, the State Secretary.
Promises of job security made by the union executive for Freight
Corp. workers in the new company are proving illusionary and a grim
charade, with threats made recently by Chris Corrigan who runs
Pacific National for a massive attack on the workforce. Only direct
action on the job, can tame Corrigan, the ferocious Patricks boss and
short circuit his vicious master plan. See article on page 4. In State
Transit, drivers are learning ever more details of the rip off imposed
by the Enterprise Bargain Agreement enthusiastically supported by
the union executive and a certain cute little wombat at Waverley
Depot. The meagre pay rise is proving to be quite a joke. Provisions of
the EBA opened the door for income losses associated with shift
changes. Subsequent shift changes associated with the nefarious
"Better Buses" are resulting in major cuts in many drivers' wages and
gobbling up the so called pay rise. Associated with "Better Buses" are
tighter running times, eroding rest breaks and increasing drivers'
stress levels. This increased stress can have all sorts of serious health
consequences. See article page on page 11.

In the end, if we want better options, we need to come together as
rank-and-file bus drivers and rail workers to win it ourselves. Sparks
supports a rank-and file bus drivers' and railway workers' group, who
meet up to talk over the issues and ways forward. Come on board for
wages justice, chasing out the fat cats, the fight against privatisation
and democratic unionism ever bit helps. 0409-566-341. Also, if you
would like to help circulate information or copies of Sparks, please
contact us. SPARKS PO Box 92 Broadway 2007 NSW.

My Opinion
By Laurie Cunjak Mob. Ph. No. 0402108293 The issue at present
which most concerns me, would have to be our union. I ask myself,
how much union members know and realise where our union stands?
Who actually is the union? I was made to believe, that we, members
are the Union. I was made to believe that only members can decide
what they want and what to demand as their rights. It would only be
realistic that members govern their own union. That obviously is
incorrect. The National Council is the supreme governing body of the
Rail Tram & Bus Union. The next level of decision-making is the
National Executive, Branch Secretaries and Branch Delegates.
Besides these two structures, there is one other so called, National
Divisional Committees, and if that is not enough, we still have
sub-division and sub-branch structures for all R.T.B.U. members. Well
, as you can see, just about every executive and assistant of those
bodies are ruling our union. Members are there only for their
membership and are expected to support the Labor Party at each
election. Unfortunately for all members that is the actual reality. There
is something that members should know and do for themselves and
their loving Union. Demand, a Democratic Rank & File Union. Don't be
brainwashed and be like robots obeying the demands of the NSW
Labor Council. They made rules in their favour and against union
members. They are stripping us of any rights and all conditions that
our predecessors fought very had to achieve for us. Let's be united
and tell the NSW Labor Council where to go. Keep our union clear of
any political party and on the workers' side. That practice doesn't
exist any more. Labor Party executives only care for themselves. Here
are a few examples. Privatisation of public schools, closing down
police stations. Importing a Police Commissioner and then giving him
a big pay out on his termination. There are so many things, we can
point to as union members. To us, its very important that, we do react
and let, the Labor Party know we don't approve of they're actions of
closing down jobs and creating more unemployed. Think of our last
Enterprise Agreement. They made a clear platform for privatisation.
Without compensating members for their services in the industry. Our
only chance is to distance our union from the NSW Labor Council and
have the direction of our union in our hands. Regardless of whom will
be in power in the NSW Govt. and who will be the owner of our depots,
we are the union and we will fight for our conditions and rights. There
will be no leaders responsible for decisions and actions of the
members. If anyone has to go to jail it will be all the 3,000 members.
Let them build big jails if they want. The NSW Labor Council action
against us is forcing us to get united and take serious steps towards
independence of our union from any political party. It's very important
that we elect the right people for the positions available in the
upcoming union elections. We don't want people who will ignore
members' decisions. That kind of people should not even nominate
themselves. We don't want Leaders, because, we the members are the
leaders. All we need are coordinators and spokes people to pass on
our decisions to State Transit and the media. We also need a
Treasurer that can be appointed by the members and have a Union
Shift Roster. We don't want the A.L.P. (Australian Labor Party) using
members' funds for their purposes. If there are any difficulties created
by the NSW Labor Council, for us to take over the Treasurer position,
and we will call an independent body to investigate all our union
books and transactions. I want members to remember that we owe
Labor nothing, for stabbing us in the back. It doesn't mean we like the
Liberals more, but with the Liberals we know where we stand. The
Liberals never pretend to be on our side, unlike Labor pretending to
have our best interests at heart yet stabbing us good and proper
where it hurts for a long time and for generations to come. I could
almost scream! Wake up, get united and do the right thing by electing
member delegates (not A.L.P.), because we are a hard working
people, not brainwashed zombies that are programmed to blindly
obey what the A.L.P. wants you to do. Our Unity is Our Strength.

Sparks: What's happening with the SRA EBA (Enterprise Bargain
Agreement) 2002? Station Assistant: The vote on the EBA was highly
manipulated by the RTBU (Rail Tram & Bus Union) hierarchy. At short
notice meetings were held at numerous locations, ensuring militants
were unable to organise to present the "No" case and a critique of the
deal. Workers were just presented with the "Yes" case by the RTBU
officials the lap dog, George Pannagiris and Clive Livingston. The
EBA and the sessions organised by the union officials to discuss it
had a very pro-business approach. Due to enormous apathy amongst
the grass roots caused by the manipulation associated with previous
agreements by the union hierarchy in cahoots with management and
the basic thrust of the EBA being to undermine conditions of different
divisions of SRA staff, there was little attendance by RTBU and ASU
(Australian Services Union) members at the meetings to vote on the
EBA. Its likely that only a few thousand union members attended.
Certainly not all of those who attended the meetings supported the
deal. If the EBA had consisted of improvements to workers'
conditions, attendance by union members at the meetings most likely
would have occurred en masse. The various provisions of the EBA
were very much slanted to management demands and were informed
by its corporate plan. It had a very pro-business approach. Certainly
any input by workers was absent. The union officials such as Nick
Lewocki, the State Secretary had failed to develop a log of claims as
part of the EBA negotiations. Whilst input was sought by the union
officials from the grass roots for a log of claims no final log of claims
was presented at workplace meetings for RTBU members to approve.
The EBA seemed very much a way of putting union members under
the thumb of the ALP and assisting the Carr ALP Govt's economic
rationalist policies and associated cutbacks to our jobs and conditions.
Consequently more demoralisation will be encouraged amongst the
grass roots with more people leaving the union. In general, the various
clauses of the EBA are open ended, encouraging as usual, a
pro-management interpretation. A particular concern I have with the
EBA, is its elimination of workers' right of appeal in regard to
disciplinary procedures. It's now to be handled by the union hierarchy,
which has a long and unsavoury record of collaborating with
management and being entwined with them in the web of the
Rightwing ALP machine. Sparks: What's happening at Central
Station? SA: I've heard a whisper that our Fuehrer is wanting to close
the first aid section. Its closure will seriously jeopardise workers' and
the public's lives. This is an essential service which must be
maintained and defended with hard hitting direct action on the job.
Also on the health and safety front, in a recent article in a Sydney
newspaper, CityRail announced that it had purchased new
defibrillators. Equipment which is very useful in attending to heart
conditions. How come no one involved in the on the job
implementation of Occupational Health & Safety in CityRail is aware
of the location of this valuable equipment which can save lives?
Sparks: What's happening with Pacific National? SA: Following the
privatisation of National Rail Freight Corp. and Freight Corp., a new
entity, Pacific National was formed, in which Chris Corrigan, CEO of
the notorious Patricks Stevedores has a major interest. Latest news is
that Corrigan has been threatening to sack Freight Corp. train drivers,
in a Patricks Lockout style onslaught, no doubt to raise profitability.
Whilst, Nick Lewocki, RTBU State Secretary who played a key role in
selling privatisation of Freight Corp. to RTBU members as the way to
ensure job security, appears to be acting in typical rightwing style and
seems not be serious about realistically defending Pacific National
workers' jobs. Latest news is that the first stage of this onslaught by
Pacific National bosses has been revealed. They are wanting to
introduce Driver Only Operation on Hunter Valley Coal Trains. The
RTBU officials are proposing a lame duck response of encouraging
workers to write letters to politicians to pressure for a delay in DOO
introduction. Until an independent inquiry is held into safety matters
in regard to DOO. How independent will the inquiry be? Who will be
on it? To have a truly independent inquiry these days you'd need
people coming form overseas. Whilst it must be understood that such
an inquiry won't stop DOO. It would be introduced with certain
conditions. It seems the RTBU hierarchy is encouraging workers to be
submissive before this savage onslaught and doesn't want to expose
them to the enormous industrial muscle the union has to defend and
improve jobs and conditions. Sparks: What are your thoughts on the
state of the railways? SA: The performance of the Carr Govt. has been
quite poor in regard to the railways in ensuring its smooth functioning
as a community service. It's treating occupational health and safety
issues and public safety as a joke. Very extensive track maintenance
work, disrupting services is continuing when the work was supposed
to have been largely completed before the Olympics. The new
millennium trains were supposed to have been introduced, but we
haven't seen any in service at peak hour. According to an article in the
Sunday Telegraph 6/10/2002 CityRail said further testing was needed
before the carriages were coupled together to form eight-car trains.
"You can't run four car trains in the peak," a CityRail spokeswoman
stated in the article. In the case of the inter urbans, carriage cleaners
at Passenger Fleet Maintenance are not decanting the toilets due to
constant staff meetings to discuss the train sewerage system. As a
result, they can't be used on trips. Consequently the health of aged
and sick passengers is affected as they can't go to the toilet on these
trains. Likewise, the health of rail staff such as security guards and
train crews is also affected. The bosses are discouraging rail staff
from intervening in altercations involving passengers. At Central
Station our fuehrer has been following this policy, resulting in
alarming situations putting the public's lives at risk. Recently at the
station a pregnant passenger intervened in a fight between some
passengers, with station staff and security guards looking on, but
unable to take action due to the instructions of City Rail management.
Sparks: What's been happening at the depot? Leichhardt Busie: Peter
Brewer, the union rep recently retired and has been replaced in the
job by Ron Landie, who Brewer has been attentively grooming for
some time. Will Brewer be also retiring from Telford's as well, where
he has been employed on his holidays over the years? Despite the
departure of Brewer, we are continuing to hear the loud stamping of
management jack boots. We are facing a savage sickie crack down
involving the harassment of drivers who take sick leave despite
having a Doctor's certificate and genuine medical conditions. Little
consideration is being shown by management for drivers' personal
problems, which results in us having to take extra leave. We are also
facing quite a bit of flak over smoking cigarettes on the bus. The
bosses are energetically jumping on us over this issue on the basis of
passenger complaints made regarding the smell of cigarette smoke in
the bus air conditioning. This seems ludicrous to me, given the high
levels of car exhaust pollution in the city streets. Sparks: What's
happening on the road? Leichhardt Busie: A bizarre situation is
occurring. The bosses are bellowing at us for over loading buses,
despite their cutback to the frequency of services and their
inadequate supply of buses. An example is the case of the 370 The
frequency of the service has been changed from one bus every 10
minutes to one every 20 minutes. The running time for the route also
fails take into account delays caused by heavy traffic on Norton Street
Leichhardt. Whilst the bosses have claimed to have introduced a
couple of hundred new buses into the STA fleet. However, this
number of new buses can't cope with the extra million passenger trips
which has occurred. The tentacles of mis-management are grasping
the new gas buses. The other day, I had one break down half way
through a trip. It's squarish with a Mercedes motor. The mechanic who
was called in, due to lack of training was unable to fix the problem.
Lack of liaison and coordination involving the RTA and the STA
involving such as issues as buses turning into Market Street is also
continuing to add

Taxi Drivers Ripped Off at TCS Base.
On July 22nd, taxi meter rates were adjusted upwards by 4.6% in line
with a ruling made by the DoT (Department of Transport). Pay-ins
were to remain unchanged until later in the year when the IRC
(Industrial Relations Commission) was to rule on how much they were
to be increased indeed, if they were to be increased at all. (See Stop
Press at end of article.) TCS Base, O'Riordan Street, however, took it
upon itself to illegally raise its pay-ins as of July 29th by the full 4.6%
of the meter increase. The base had already been charging its drivers
the full legal maximum for white cabs and about 6, 7 or 8 dollars over
the legal maximum for Silver Service; therefore, after July 29th, white
cab drivers were being overcharged 4.6% while Silver Service drivers
were overcharged up to 8.6%. Upon learning of this state of affairs
from outraged drivers, the TWU (Transport Workers' Union) wrote to
Brian Beuganey, the fleet manager at TCS, on August 29th, notifying
him that his pay-ins exceeded the "maximum allowable limit as
prescribed in the Taxi Industry (Contract Drivers) Contract
Determination 1984 and subsequent amendments", and requesting
that TCS "immediately cease charging the increased rates and ...
refund the difference to all affected drivers". The letter further stated
that "TCS is given 7 days to correct this anomaly, failing which [the
TWU] shall file a dispute notice in the IRC...". On the very same day,
August 29th, the TWU received a reply not from Brian Beuganey as
might be expected but from taxi industry 'Godfather', Reg Kermode.
Kermode stated begrudgingly that "Pay Ins will be adjusted and
refunds will be given as requested". He further said: "As a result of
your letter ... we have decided to close down the fleet management
operations completely. That task will be completed by 30 November
2002 and you will no doubt get great pleasure from seeing drivers
dispersed from a great working environment, which has always
worked well with the Transport Workers' Union .... Your short-sighted
(yet technically correct) policy is astounding." The only thing that's
astounding is Kermode's arrogance! While admitting that TCS has
been overcharging its drivers in contravention of the law Kermode is
incensed that anyone should be complaining about it, let alone
insisting that he returns what he illegally took to begin with. He then
tries to blame the union for his own rash decision to close the base
down! Kermode's arrogance, dictatorial style, and general reluctance
to give account of himself to anyone are indicative of a man who has
had too much power for far too long. On September 5th, a few days
after his extraordinary pronouncements, Kermode was singing
another tune: This time, the base would no longer be completely
closed down, rather, all the white cars (13 in total) would be farmed
out to other operators, and TCS, O'Riordan St,. would function as a
Silver Service operation only (approx. 20 cars at this stage), as of
September 14th. Notices to this effect were posted around the base,
including the promise to refund the amounts that drivers had been
overcharged over the preceding few weeks. On September 14th the
white cars were, indeed, gone and new pay-in scales were posted
now, for Silver Service only which were comprised of the legal
maximum for each shift plus a built-in surcharge of 6, 7 or 8 dollars,
ostensibly for use of the trunk radio. To charge over the maximum
legal pay-in for a trunk radio is illegal, but TCS thought they'd give it a
go anyway. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. A few days
later, however, after the cunning minds at O'Riordan Street had given
the matter some further thought and decided that perhaps they
shouldn't leave too much evidence of their overcharging around the
place, all of the new (illegally inflated) pay-in scales came down and
were replaced with other notices that offered two pay-in options
without mentioning any specific dollar amounts. These involved: "(1)
Increased pay-ins for usage of trunk radio. (2) Normal rates without
the trunk radio." Drivers now have to personally enquire as to what
these rates are, and conveniently for TCS, no paper evidence exists to
implicate them in still continuing to overcharge on pay-ins. In reducing
the size of their fleet by over one third, and 'promoting' many of the
former white car drivers to Silver Service status, TCS has created,
proportionately, a larger pool of drivers competing for a reduced
number of cars. The resulting situation is greater competition by
drivers for the remaining cars, with many missing out, and all willing
to pay the rates that TCS demands or risk not getting a car. All drivers
at TCS, O'Riordan Street, should be aware that the reduction in
pay-ins that took effect on Wednesday, September 4th, was the work
of the drivers' Union, the TWU. Some drivers apparently believe that
TCS lowered their pay-ins unasked, out of the goodness of their
hearts. This is definitely not the case! They had to be dragged kicking
and screaming and did their best to sabotage the process. If it were
not for the union and driver-activists associated with the union, TCS
drivers would still be paying higher pay-ins than currently. The TWU
is currently working to get the illegal trunk radio surcharge dropped. If
any driver encounters resistance on the part of TCS in returning
overpayments as they had promised, he or she should contact Raj
Chaudhry of the TWU on 9912 0700 for assistance. If a greater
number of drivers at TCS had been TWU members, many of the
problems experienced recently could have been resolved much more
easily or, indeed, nipped in the bud before they began. A large and
vigilant Union presence with a demonstrated willingness to back up
drivers' legal rights with direct action would make the taxi bosses less
confident in trying to rip us off. For these reasons and others, all
drivers are encouraged to join the Transport Workers' Union to assist
in the struggle for lower pay-ins, better conditions, and a greater say
in how the industry is run. It's a struggle for a better life. In Union Is
Strength. Stop Press -- Stop Press -- Stop Press. On Monday, October
14th, in the Industrial Court, Justice Marks determined that an
increase in legal maximum pay-ins, of a magnitude of 3.75%, was to
take effect, commencing on the day shift of Tuesday, October 15th.
The taxi bosses argued for a 4.6% increase backdated to July 22nd so
that TCS Base and others who'd been overcharging on pay-ins could
get out of paying drivers back, but these arguments were successfully
rebuffed by the TWU. The new maximum pay-ins are as follows:
All day shifts - $118.30
Monday nights - $128.35
Tuesday nights - $130.55
Wednesday nights - $140.80
Thursday nights - $158.85
Friday nights - $180.15
Saturday nights - $180.15
Sunday nights - $139.65
Remember, any operator who charges more than the above is
breaking the law. Contact the Union.

Sparks: So, what's happening at Randwick? We hear there are record
numbers of transfer applications, is this true? The Foxx: Yes,
thirty-seven applications went in, nearly all for Port Botany. S: Why is
that? TF: Well, if you worked for our Operations Manager, John
Palmer, you would try anything to escape too! S: We have heard a lot
of bad things about this guy, are they all true? TF: Well, if you mean
the part about him eating small children, I can't be sure, but if you are
talking about his school yard bully boy tactics, his ability to single
handedly crush the morale of a good depot, and his inability to relate
to his staff as fellow humans, then yes, definitely true! S: So he tries to
intimidate the staff at Randwick? TF: Certainly, if you can't lead by
example, rule by fear, that's his motto. We work in a depot where we
are continually harassed by management. Sick leave is not an
entitlement here, it is something that must be saved up and
worshipped, presumably as a shrine to Palmer. S: What other forms of
harassment are taking place? TF: Why, just the other day, we had a
driver booked for running three minutes early at a timing point that
was half way along his trip. S: Surely you can't be serious, three
minutes? TF: Yes, I kid you not! We have a zero tolerance policy for
running early at this depot, no doubt devised by someone who has
never driven a bus and eats small children in his spare time. S: But
with the fluctuating conditions of Sydney traffic and the variations in
travel patterns, surely some slight variation from the timetable is to be
expected. I mean, if you drove a car from Coogee to the City every
day, you couldn't consistently repeat the journey in the same time,
day after day, so how do they expect you to do this in a bus? TF: Well,
you know management's philosophy, if something is not working, it
must be the drivers' fault! I mean, I have no problem if the policy was
zero tolerance for leaving the terminus early, that I can understand,
but there are several valid reasons why a bus would make up time
during a trip. S: Such as? TF: Well, the bus in front could be running
late, so the bus behind picks up less passengers; reduced peak hour
loadings in School Holidays; people taking RDO's on Mondays and
Fridays reducing loadings; a random dream run of green lights; one of
those trips when everyone knows where they are going and tenders
correct change; or the most common and obvious one, scheduling and
timetabling errors. That last one is never mentioned, because that's a
management problem, and we all know management don't make
mistakes, do they? S: It seems that all they want to do at Randwick is
put the boot into drivers. TF: Or anyone who supports them. S: What
do you mean by that? TF: Well, we have a relief Assessor here, Stuart
Burney, who refused to book drivers for Palmer. It seems Palmer
instructed that any driver who was found at fault in an accident was to
receive an official notice of warning, regardless of how good his
driving record was, or the accident circumstances. Stuart Burney
refused to hand the notices out, so Palmer insisted that the drivers be
called back to the accident review committee, where Stuart Burney
would insist that they got the required 15 minutes overtime, and then
send them away, without issuing the warning. This went on for weeks.
S: So, what eventually happened? TF: Palmer resorted to his usual
stab in the back tactics. He started overturning the Assessors
decisions, never the ones where the drivers were found to be at fault
mind you, just the ones that found them innocent. Then he issued the
penalty notices himself. S: But Palmer is not a qualified Assessor,
what makes him think he can get away with over ruling his experts?
TF: True, why buy a dog if you intend to do the barking yourself? It
was just another chance to put the boot into the drivers as if their day
isn't already hard enough! S: So what happened with accident review?
TF: Well, after that, Stuart Burney refused to do it. To their credit,
Assessors Bruce Beal and Tony Fisher gave Stuart their full backing
and refused to accident review as well. S: So once he got his
Assessors offside, what did he do then? TF: Then came the nasty part.
Bruce Beal resigned in disgust and Palmer deleted his line of work to
prevent Stuart Burney from getting it remember Stuart was the relief
Assessor. S: But hang on, I thought exclusive lines of work like
Assessor shifts could not be deleted, surely that was against RTBU
rules? TF: Indeed, and we all know what happens when we break the
rules, don't we? I told Stuart to take it up with the union, but they were
no help. He even rang Pat Ryan, and she fobbed him off, after all, it
wasn't election time! S: So we take it this happened a few months ago,
what's gone on since then? TF: Well, the vacant Assessor position was
finally advertised and some guy who has been on the job less than
four months most of which he spent in Palmer's office dobbing in other
drivers got the job. S: Who ran the interview committee? TF: One
guess, John Palmer. S: That's disgraceful! So what can Stuart Burney
do about it? TF: Well, Stuart is going to run for divisional president,
Pat Ryan's job, at the upcoming union election. S: Well, you can't
blame him after such blatant victimisation! TF: Well, as he said to me,
here is a guy with an HSC from a selective high school and a three
year business management diploma from Randwick TAFE, yet he still
gets shafted! What hope is there for some poor bloke who has been in
the country for five years with English as a second language, and is
shit scared about loosing his job because it's the only thing that feeds
his wife and kids. I think Stuart Burney is prepared to stand up for the
members. S: Sounds great, that's just the sort of executive you guys
need. So who is he running with? TF: Well, he has been getting strong
support from all depots, and has teamed up with another driver, David
Carpenter. S: We saw David speak at one of the big union meetings.
He spoke well and seemed to care about restoring your lost
conditions. TF: Yes, he does, that's why Stuart and Dave formed
KICKSTART. S: What is KICKSTART? TF: Hopefully our next union
executive. Stuart will be Divisional President, and Dave is running for
Secretary, Ryan and Avery's current jobs. Their aim is to put some
backbone into the union and to give members a reason for paying
their union fees. I understand they want to have the Railways, Buses
and ferries all negotiate their EBA together, so that we can force a
better deal out of the Government and see some of the better working
conditions flow across to bus drivers. S: Well that makes sense, we
never could understand why you guys were in the same union as the
Railways, yet negotiated a separate EBA with worse conditions! TF:
Well, let's hope Stuart and Dave get in so they can fix that. S: So we
take it from that you will be voting for KICKSTART? TF: You bet.
After all, I worry about my future. If we don't get a completely new
union executive, this job is finished. We really need a KICKSTART! S:
Well good luck, and thanks for your time. TF: No problem, what name
do I put on my bill !!!


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