Unions petition for more train staff

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) are being supported by the Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) in presenting a petition against the proposed staff changes on Auckland’s public transport services.

“The idea of taking guards off the trains has been around for a while, but it has been gathering momentum in the last six months,” says RMTU’s John Kerr.

“The New Zealand Transport Agency has to approve the change in procedures, and that is before the agency now.”

He said a decision was likely to be made next month.

Initially, Auckland Transport reports said they would be increasing Transport Officers to patrol the network to 16, that has now jumped to 200, and would replace current train managers.

“The RMTU has no coherent idea around what the Transport Officers would be paid, or around their specific train duties,” he said. “The reality is there’s no guarantee that these staff will be on any given train, at any give time.”

He said the idea of having Transport Officers was great, but should be in addition to, not instead of train managers.

“There is also a lot of pressure on the driver. If there is a medical emergency on board or if a train hits a car, there is only one staff member to deal with it all.”

The petition which has been around Waiuku and Pukekohe is a result of Union members taking action against Auckland Transport’s proposals.

“It hasn’t come from head office,” John said. “Our members volunteered to take it to the public and we’re getting overwhelming public support.”

“In our view, we question the motivation behind AT’s choices. They seem to be putting profit before people,” John said.

Jon Reeves from the PTUA agrees, “We’re suspicious that it’s a cost cutting scheme and the public transport users safety is jeopardised.”

“We support train managers staying on trains and having transport officers with more powers. The more uniformed staff, the better.”

“Neither AT or Transdev have released any official news. We’re very concerned and we ask for a meeting with Transdev and Auckland Transport, so that we can open it up for public feedback and scrutiny,” he said.

“Any train can have a danger on it, maybe a drunk, abusive or violent passenger.”

He said they want to ensure there is a Train Manager on every service.

“Imagine a train with no staff but a driver—who do you approach?”

To read more about the petition or to sign, go to www.together.org.nz/all-aboard

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