RAIL workers are refusing to surrender in their wage war with the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC), despite pleas to stop and an estimation it has cost the economy millions.
The Hunter Line was again plunged into chaos on Friday as rail workers walked off the job, forcing commuters onto buses and disrupting the Hunter Valley coal chain.
It comes as the ARTC steps up its counter-fire, purchasing a full-page advertisement in Saturday’s Newcastle Herald, and releasing a breakdown of the strike’s impact on the state economy, all in an attempt to diffuse union attacks.
ARTC chief John Fullerton urged rail workers to dump industrial action and said the cost of the strike was estimated at $10 million a day.
“While [the strike] hurts our business, it does more than that – it hurts rail, the thousands of Hunter companies that rely on our business and the thousands of passengers that rely on a train service,” Mr Fullerton said.
“Our customers are major steel, coal and resources companies as well as intermodal or containerised freight that travels by rail.
“Every one of these sectors, including the Hunter Valley coal chain, is facing difficult times, people have been losing jobs – and that impacts our revenue.”
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union will its strike action on Saturday, and has not ruled out calling snap work stoppages next week.
The union’s NSW secretary, Alex Claasens, said he saw no other way to bring the ARTC to the table to support a 4 per cent pay rise over three years. The union is also demanding guarantees over employee entitlements.
“The ARTC has taken an uncompromising and unreasonable stance on a range of issues that would not cost the company anything, including fairer rostering principles, improved consultation with workers, and better dispute resolution,” Mr Claasens said.
The ARTC is offering a 2 per cent pay rise.
Buses replace trains on two arms of the line between Hamilton, via Maitland, up to both Dungog and Scone, until 7am on Sunday.