More industrial action halts trains on Seymour line

By David Rak

V/Line trains will be replaced by coach services on the Seymour, Shepparton and Albury lines tomorrow due to industrial action.

The announcement comes after what the Rail, Tram and Bus Union called “further attacks from V/Line management on employees’ rights at work”.

There will also be no trains operating on the Ballarat, Maryborough and Ararat lines on February 18 and Traralgon and Bairnsdale lines on February 19.

Passengers are advised to allow up to an extra 60 minutes for their journey and to download the temporary replacement coach timetable from the V/Line website to plan their journey.

Freight trains managed by private operators and other services will still run during planned industrial action so the community is reminded to always obey warning signs at level crossings and stay safe around trains.

V/Line chief executive James Pinder said the government-owned transport operator had not made significant progress in the negotiations.

“This industrial action is frustrating and unnecessary," he said.

"V/Line desperately wants to progress forward, and we are glad the government has offered an independent mediator and involvement of Industrial Relations Victoria to progress this dispute.

“This is not about impacting the take-home pay of employees. V/Line is one of the fastest growing rail networks in Australia and our aim for these negotiations is to reflect this and modernise the way we do things.

“We continue to sincerely thank passengers for their patience and understanding during this challenging time.”

RTBU branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said V/Line and the government did not appreciate the significant growth in staff productivity in recent years.

“What has languished has been government investment in regional commuters,” Ms Grigorovitch said.

"They actually need to invest in staff and rolling stock to keep pace with the boom in demand.

“We are fed up with the excuses and glossy pamphlets. Workers and the public need comprehensive solutions now.

“Our members take great pride in their work, getting people from A to B, but when the government and the company team up to attack their ability to deliver that service they take it very personally.

“Our members are on the coal face, they know best the performance issues faced on the network — passengers have identified the problems, the bureaucrats just need to open their ears and act.

“It is becoming clear that the minister is unable to manage a contract and unwilling to show leadership when transport is in chaos.”

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