January 29, 2018

Horse 2370 - I Am Angry Because There Wasn't A Train Strike

This morning, 29th January 2018, I took a city bound train from Marayong with absolutely no problem whatsoever. I find this utterly disgusting. I should not have been able a city bound train from Marayong with absolutely no problem whatsoever because the so-called "Fair Work" Commission should have never declared that the proposed strike action by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union was illegal.

There hasn't been a public outcry over this and news outlets which form part of the Murdocracy like the Daily Telegraph have spent the day actively bashing the Union.
Although this isn't as severe as crimes against the person or as visible as the censorship of the free press, what we've witnessed here is still an abuse of human rights as the Fair Work Commission has struck off the right to strike.

Australia has a long history when it comes to labour laws and the rights of workers. You could argue that the Eureka Stockade was the climax of a long dispute between gold miners and the government over the unfairness of licences and the right to self-organise. Indeed the Australian Labor Party is so old that its spelling dates from before the acceptance of standard British spelling and before there was a Commonwealth of Australia.

Tradition attributes the beginning of the Queensland Labour Party to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree, which is now the heritage listed "Tree of Knowledge" in Barcaldine. Australia was also the first country in the world to have either an economically left leaning social democratic or socialist government, with the appointment of Chris Watson's Labor Government after the 1903 election.

This I suspect is what is at the very heart of this. What you have is a Liberal state government who is bucking against the labout movement itself; probably because of political point scoring more than anything else.
When you see the Fair Work Commission strike off the right to strike, this i not only a strike against the rights of workers but against the other side of politics.

We have a Liberal Government in both New South Wales and Federally (the Liberal Party is named for the idelology of economic liberalism but it displays social authoritarianism) who both want to stack the deck in favour of employers. The fact that it is the executive of the state government isn't much of a problem. At the moment, it has stacked the deck at the  Fair Work Commission in favour of employers; which means that in the state of New South Wales, it has made the rules in favour of itself. Who is left to fight for the workers? Well hopefully nobody, in their eyes.

At the present moment the New South Wales Liberal Government is deliberately undertaking the task of degrading Transport for NSW, such that it can be privatised:

"They will be all private. In 10 to 15 years' time government will not be in the provision of transport services, it will be all on demand, private sector driven, underpinned by innovation in technology," the Minister said.
"Already every new train that we are bringing online now, whether it is the Metro train or light rail, are all private sector partnerships."
- Australian Financial Review, 20th Mar 2017.¹

The simple mathematics of the situation means that the workload demanded is impossible. Although the system is supposed to be designed so that drivers work for 10 days a fortnight and 9 days a fortnight (any working day might begin on call), a lot of drivers end up doing 12 days a fortnight. Without overtime, the schedule falls from 2900 trains on a weekday down to 1600 on a weekday. This means that almost 45% of trains are run on an overtime basis.

What I suspect that this latest row is about, is that after deliberately shrinking the workforce and making working conditions horrible, that the end game is that existing staff will quit, so that they can be replaced with non-union staff.
The Fair Work Commission said it a strike would "threaten to endanger the welfare of part of the population"² but it is apparently fine with drivers working excessive amounts of overtime while being in charge of more than 400 tonnes of metal doing more than 100km/h. Yet there's no public outcry over this and the Daily Telegraph is singing the government's praises.


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