The Guardian 17 August, 2005

Collective action against union busting

Over 2000 rail workers employed by the union busting Chris Corrigan walked off the job last Friday in the face of attempts to shut their union out of negotiations on a new collective agreement.

There were large turnouts at peaceful assemblies at rail depots from Perth to Port Kembla by workers at Pacific National ó a joint venture between Corriganís Patrick Corp and road transport giant Toll Holdings.

"This is something we have to do", said the Rail Tram and Bus Unionís (RBTU) Greg Harvey from the gates of the Sydney Freight terminal at Chullora. "And we are prepared to do it again if we have to."

Truck drivers for Toll and other independent operators refused to enter freight terminals where assemblies had been established. Members of the Transport Workers Union and the Maritime Union of Australia, who fought off attempts by Patrick to de-unionise their stevedoring operation on 1998, joined RTBU members in their actions.

In the lead up to the stoppage Pacific National had told employees the protected action was illegal, a move the RTBU says was designed to put fear into the workforce.

The management strategy backfired with 70 rail workers joining the union in the week leading up to Fridayís action.

RTBU National Secretary Bob Hayden described the turn out as "fantastic".

"RTBU members showed their solidarity with each other and their desire for a single union collective agreement.

"Workers have delivered productivity and profits under the current collective agreement. But the return for their loyalty and dedication must not be job insecurity, erosion of conditions and wages and the contracting out of current collective agreement jobs.

"The decision has not been taken lightly, members are giving up a dayís pay because they care about their job security."

The RTBU members have been negotiating with Pacific National for five months in an effort to secure a collective agreement.

Pacific National recently announced a nine-month net after tax profit of $78 million, a 39 per cent increase from the previous nine months.

Back to index page