RailCorp split as NSW takes different track

New South Wales train agency RailCorp is to be split in two, as the State Government also moves to slash hundreds of jobs.

The move will be the biggest shake-up of the state’s rail network in decades.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian says NSW Trains will service regional customers while Sydney Trains will caters for metropolitan commuters.

The changes will also include cutting 750 middle management jobs and shifting responsibility for RailCorp’s cleaning services.

Ms Berejiklian says the changes will improve things for customers and front-line staff.

“I’m actually expecting support from many sections of the workforce in RailCorp, who want to have the layers of bureaucracy unpicked, who actually want to have the freedom to do their jobs properly,” she said.

But Opposition Leader John Robertson has raised the spectre of thousands more job cuts, as was recommended in a recent report into RailCorp by the consultancy Booz and Company.

“Next to go will be station staff from over 100 stations, train guards, cleaners and maintenance staff,” he said.

“These job cuts will have an impact on front-line services. We’ll see safety, security and most importantly customer service compromised under these job cuts.”

Ms Berejiklian will not comment on the possibility of further job cuts.

“I’m not going to engage in any speculation. What I am going to confirm is that today’s announcements are all about fixing the trains,” she said.

“They’re all about supporting our customers and they’re all about people being asked in middle management voluntarily to put their hands up for redundancy. We’re not forcing anybody to leave the organisation.”

The Minister has rejected Opposition suggestions that today’s announcement is a first move towards privatisation.

“That is not our policy. It hasn’t been our policy when it comes to rail. What this is about is fixing the trains,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Union fury

Trade unions are furious at the announcement and have foreshadowed that they will take industrial action.

The state secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, Alex Claassens, says unions are meeting this morning with the head of the Transport Department.

“We will try and find out what his view is and what the view of the Government is at this point in time about where they’ll cut these 750 jobs and we’ve got news for them, they’re not just going to cut those jobs out, it’s not going to happen,” Mr Claassens said.

“There’s an enterprise agreement in place and we will fight them until we understand exactly how this is going to benefit the people of New South Wales.”

The Australian Services Union’s NSW secretary, Sally McManus, is also suspicious about the possibility of further job cuts.

“Whenever you want major changes and to get rid of jobs first you start with so-called middle management, because you think the rest of your staff won’t be too worried because they’ll think ‘Oh our bosses are getting the sack not us’,” she said.

“Middle management are the people who are the most experienced. Most of them have been at RailCorp all their lives. They know the place inside out, back to front, so if you get rid of them what you lose is a massive amount of corporate knowledge.”

Source : ABC

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