Remember last week's Sydney Trains chaos?
Commuters have been warned that a proposed 24-hour rail strike will shut Sydney down, an action that the NSW Transport minister has labelled a "silly stunt".
Workers had initially planned to stop short of a strike and just protest by wearing union badges and refusing to take overtime shifts, but the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) said today that workers now had no other choice.
Mr Claassens said he was confident commuters would hold the New South Wales government and Sydney and NSW Trains management "ultimately responsible".
Government officials remain hopeful the strike will not go ahead, asserting that they wanted to negotiate in "good faith" with the union. The NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance said they will agree to a pay rise for train drivers "in accordance with the wages policy that applies to teachers, nurses, police, bus drivers and other public sector workers".
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The strike announcement comes after a horror week for the city's rail network, which left thousands of commuters stranded in peak hour.
"I want to wholeheartedly apologise to all of our customers".
"On Thursday Mark Morey and Howard Collins will be meeting to discuss the offer that's been made between Sydney Trains and rail unions".
At the height of the delays, eight out of 10 train lines were not running to a timetable anymore, with no expected departure times available, and travellers were also turned away from certain platforms at Central and Wynyard due to significant overcrowding. The union blamed staffing shortages, after a new intensive timetable was hurriedly rolled out last November.
Alex Claassens has stood by the union's decision to strike on January 29.
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Rail workers are unhappy about the current enterprise agreement and have voted to take industrial action as they continue to fight for a six per cent pay rise and improved working conditions. "The system most days is world class and some days, unfortunately, we let commuters down".
However the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Ged Kearney said it was everyday Australians who needed a pay rise, not top political staffers.
One million passengers use the network every day.
"This is weird to go from Friday wanting to take name badges off and not wear uniforms to overtime bans, to now one of the most serious strike actions that you can pull, and that is a complete shutdown of the network".
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