Plan to turn off NSW Opal readers revived


NSW train commuters could be travelling for free as the rail union revives a plan to indefinitely deactivate Opal card readers.

Rail workers will vote on whether to shut down Opal readers at train stations after that plan was withdrawn when the government threatened legal action earlier this month.

It was revived with a fresh application to the industrial umpire to deactivate the readers as part of protected industrial action.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) NSW secretary Alex Claassens issued a message to union members on Monday informing them of a vote next week about turning off the readers.

“The government has already indicated that it will seek to challenge our industrial action in court, despite these orders for a ballot being made,” Mr Claassens said.

“As usual, we’ll be ready and we’ll fight them every step of the way,” he said.

The ballot will open the week before the government and unions return to the Fair Work Commission for another hearing seeking to resolve their long running stoush over an enterprise agreement and modifications to a fleet of new intercity trains.

Premier Dominic Perrottet says people are not interested in the dispute and just “want to get on with it”.

“The reason (the union) have moved to shut down the machines is because by leaving the gates open, the majority of people in our city tapped on and tapped off,” he said on Tuesday.

The rail union took industrial action throughout August, which involved leaving Opal gates open, among other actions including area-based strikes and refusals to drive foreign-built trains.

Mr Perrottet says the issues will be worked out through the industrial umpire.

The government and unions have been involved in conciliation in the Commission in recent weeks, in a bid to reach a resolution.

The final conciliation session is scheduled for Thursday, before a hearing set to take place on October 11.


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