Train Strike Could Cost Sydney $100m
A proposed 24-hour strike by Sydney train workers could cost the local economy $100 million, according to the city's business chamber. More than 9000 train workers are due to strike on Monday, January 29, after negotiations between Sydney Trains and the Rail Tram and Bus Union fell through on Tuesday.
The RBTU is seeking a six per cent pay rise and improved working conditions, while the state government is holding firm at a proposed 2.5 per cent increase.
The RTBU union's suggestion for workers to stay at home on the day of the strike was described as "simply outrageous" by the Sydney Business Chamber's executive director Patricia Forsythe on Wednesday.
Ms Forsythe said the union's actions could cost the Sydney economy $100 million.
"I think the union has gone for maximum impact," Ms Forsythe told reporters, adding that Sydney's reputation as a global city would take a hit if the transport system was in chaos.
Meanwhile, the NSW opposition has called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to sideline her Transport Minister for the remaining negotiations.
"The principal cause of this (strike) is the belligerent transport minister," Opposition leader Luke Foley told reporters on Wednesday.
"I'm not a fan of a strike, I want to see that strike called off, but what that will take is the intervention of the premier."
Mr Foley said the six per cent demand by the union was "not on," describing it as an "ambit claim".
"There's plenty of middle ground here but a belligerent transport minister has inflamed rather than resolved the situation."
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the proposed strike is a "silly stunt".
"This is ridiculous, this is a silly stunt," Mr Constance told Network Seven on Wednesday.
"The rail union don't want to meet with me."
The union's state secretary Alex Claassens said he was disappointed the situation had come to this.
"Our members have just said 'look, enough is enough'," Mr Claassens told the Nine Network on Wednesday.
"We have got a minister that does not respect the workers and he doesn't want to take advice from anyone. It has got to a point now we are legally allowed to take the action and our members said we are going to take it."
He accused Mr Constance of sending a text to try and negotiate.
"You pick up the phone, you come to the table, you turn around and give us the facts," Mr Claassens told Network Seven.
The strike plan follows a horror week for Sydney's rail network, which left thousands of commuters stranded in peak hour.
From Friday rail workers will wear campaign clothing and badges before an indefinite ban on overtime starts on January 25, the day before the Australia Day long weekend.