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Regional train strikes on the way as V/Line staff vote for industrial action

The union previously said in documents lodged with the Fair Work Commission that V/Line was removing driver training provisions, an eight-hour shift guarantee, public holiday loadings and other penalties.

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Rail, Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Luba Grigorovitch said it was clear staff were frustrated by the slow bargaining progress and V/Line’s efforts to “attack training standards and a reasonable disciplinary process”.

“Management and the government must stop trying to pass the buck between one another and show leadership for an outcome that supports regional commuters,” she said.

The union has not ruled out that a strike could happen before Christmas.

A V/Line spokesperson said “we’ll continue to negotiate in good faith with our workers’ representatives about the new V/Line operations workplace agreement”.

There is already chronic overcrowding on some of the regional transport provider’s major lines. The majority of peak hour services on the Geelong line are full, according to V/Line’s most recent statistics.

Staff have been in discussions with V/Line about the enterprise bargaining agreement for four months, after it expired in June this year.

When proposing industrial V/Line action in October this year, the union was considering first targeting the Geelong and Warrnambool lines, followed by Ballarat, Maryborough, Bendigo, Seymour, Shepparton and Gippsland.

Ms Grigorovitch said in relation to industrial action for tram workers, Yarra Trams is now refusing to meet the union. The union is demanding a 6 per cent annual pay rise over three years, while Yarra Trams has offered 3 per cent over four years.

With Timna Jacks

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