Student Name – Mohomed Faraad Saleem
Student No -11632419
Subject Code – HRM 523
Subject Name- Advanced Studies in Industrial Relations Assessment Title – Report On the Role of Union
Lecturer – Maria Mullen
Table of ContentPage No
The role played by RTBU in NSW Dispute 04
The implications of the union’s role in NSW dispute 07
The Rail, Tram and bus union which is known as the RTBU is a union which covers all the employees in rail and public transport industries. Even though the RTBU was established in 1993, its root goes back to the late 1880s which was open to anyone who works in light rail passenger rail or publicly operated bus services. Having more than 35,000 members, the main objective of RTBU is to sort out employees in the public transport industry to ensure and fabricate their rights at work. The modern RTBU was established from the amalgamation of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen (AFULE), the Australian Railways Union (ARU), the Australian Tramways and Motor Omnibus Employees Association (ATMOEA), and the small National Union of Railway Workers (NURWA), is currently one of Australia’s main industry based unions (RTBU – 2018).
The amalgamation of the different unions and the establishment of the RTBU was critical on the grounds as it gave rail, bus and tram employees a solid voice in its dealings with government and private administrators, to safeguard and secure the members rights. The amalgamated RTBU was the employee’s reaction to enormous change in public transport sector, inspired by an anti-union and privatization belief system driven by conservative Governments (Haladin ; Ahac -2016). The RTBU is affiliated with the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU), the Victorian Trades Hall Council (VTHC), International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), the Australian Labour Party (ALP) and the Transport Unions Federation (TUF).
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The members of RTBU benefit from various other services which includes grievance handling, legal advice and financial support. The National Office organizes national campaigns, discuss and negotiate national agreements and gives portrayal the Federal Government, the International trade Union development and the ACTU. The RTBU has offered support and portrayal for a huge number of members over the years in addition to history and keeps on ensuring the interests of the 35,000 individuals it at present administrations (RTBU – 2018).
The Role Played by RTBU in NSW dispute
Earlier this year the Sydney train workers announced that they will be going for a strike due to following a breakdown of negotiation between the rail management and the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) which lead the commuters to experience a major delay in train services in Sydney including the times during the peak hour rush. The NSW’s train union confirmed that their workers across the network will be going on a strike for 24 hours. The train strike was scheduled to take place from 29th January 12.01 am to Tuesday 30th January 12.01 Am which was addition to the indefinite ban on the overtime which commenced on the 25th January 2018. Approximately more than 1300 train services were stopped across the network from 25th January due to aforementioned ban on working overtime. The first action began on the 19th January 2018 by workers wearing and displaying union and industrial campaign materials which included RTBU badges apparels.
Sydney’s controversial new timetable which was implemented in November 2017 which combined with shortage of staffs and a failure of train management to guarantee their employees a fair condition of work and pay led to the industrial action. The RTBU initially wanted a pay raise of 6 % yearly for the next four years and improved working condition for their members in order to put them in line with other states train workers.
The pluralistic approach suggests that there is more than one form of power in the relationship between the employers and employees. Unions are frequently a focal segment to the pluralistic approach that aspects for a balance of power among administration and employees. Therefore, a strong union is not only desirable but necessary. The trade unions are the legitimate representatives of employee’s interest. According to Putney (2015) this pluralistic approach it assumes that the conflicts are inescapable, and however it is an important component for innovation and development of the organization. The negotiation seeks to discover a fine balance between the what the employees and the workforce wants and what the, management suggest it requires (Fiebich & Coltheart – 2014).
Determining how to comprehend the labourers’ point of view reduces the long haul struggle and this is the cause the management raises up from the ranks are often embraced by workers and unions. The legitimacy of the management’s authority is not accepted automatically and employees join unions to protect their rights and interest and to influence the decisions made by the management (Szostak – 2015).
Prior to conducting the protest, the RTBU followed the pluralistic approach by giving priority to their member’s interest. The RTBU conducted a mobile poll by sending a text message to their employees with regards to the industrial action. The members of the union were received a text message where the members were asked to text back ‘yes’ if they wanted to call off the industrial action and an unreturned response was counted as a ‘No’. However according to the feedback only 6% of the members agreed to call of the industrial action which lead the RTBU to go ahead with the planned industrial action. The secretary of RTBU Mr. Alex Claassen supported the interested of their members and went ahead with the strike while trying to negotiate with the government.
The government involved in the dispute by interfering in the interest of well-being of the commuters, economy and the country as a whole which the unitary approach. The unitary approach is grounded on the notion where that every member of the organization such as managers, employees and other staff members have a common set of interest, purpose and objectives and hence working towards achieving these shared goals in unison (Tadic M – 2011). In this approach the conflicts are considered as temporary grievances which has been triggered due to poor management and neglecting the part of the employees to understand and blend with the organization culture. This approach is established on the assumption where the overall effectiveness and the profitability of the organization can be elevated if all the employees is the organization share the same interest and work towards achieving those objectives in harmony. In this approach the strikes and industrial actions are considered as destructive (Cole ; Banerjee – 2012).
To solve the dispute NSW transport minister Mr. Andrew Constance actively involved in the negotiation with the RTBU. However, the fair work commission of Australia ruled the suspend the rail workers planned 24 hours strike to elude the significant damage that would cause to the economy and well-being of the society (Heraldsun -2018). According to the fair work commission the industrial action of RTBU threatened to wipe out the NSW’s transport system and the industrial action was suspended for 6 weeks. However, after negotiating between the government and the RTBU, it was agreed to suspend the industrial action for 6 weeks and staffers not allowed to strike within that period of time. During those six weeks, the NSW government and Rail, Tram and Bus union negotiated to resolve the dispute where the RTBU demanded a 6% increase of their pay raise. However, after negotiation the transport minister Mr. Constance followed the HR approach and agreed for a pay raise of 3% pay rise for the RTBU to solve the dispute.
A trade union is considered as an association of workers in a profession, trade or a group of trade formed to protect their rights and interest (Hofmann, 2017). It is an organization consisting mainly of workers and employees the main actions of which comprise the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members.in Australia sometimes a union is referred to as a trade union or a labour union and there are currently more than one hundred unions are operating in Australia. The Australian Council of Trade Union is the largest body that is representing workers and employees of Australia. It is a national trade union which the centre of 46 affiliated unions and nine labour and trade council. RTBU is member of ACTU representing the employees of rail, tram and bus industry (Waddington, 2011).
A union plays an important role at the workplace the union negotiate with the management to help to resolve the workplace disputes, acting as an advocate to the employees, making sure the employers are meeting their minimum obligations and looking into breaches of workplace law, discrimination law and workplace safety laws (fair work Au -2018).
When it comes to the Sydney rail workers dispute, the RTBU acted in the right manner by going into a strike in the interested of its members which is to gain a pay raise by 6%. Prior to the strike, the RTBU conducted a mobile poll by asking for the interest of their members regarding the strike and RTBU went ahead with the strike after majority of the employees agreed to go ahead with it. As a trade union they followed the correct steps in conducting a protest where they initially advised the general public and the commuters that there will be an industrial action taking place and it was followed by the members of RTBU wearing and displayed apparels and badges related to the protest while expecting the government give a feedback on their demand. According to press conference held by Mr. Alex Claassen the secretary of RTBU, they had no choice but to go ahead with the strike as the transport minister is arrogant to listen to their demands. The Australian Council of Trade Union head Mrs. Sally McManus told the involvement and approach of the government towards the dispute was not fair and the government’s actions with regards to the industrial relations were stacked in favour of the employers and the basic right to strike in Australia in nearly dead. However according to the ACTU head the workers followed every single rule and law and yet the minister of transport and the fair work commission ordered to cancel the overtime ban as well as the strike disappointed every member of the RTBU. According to Herald Sun (2018) the working people and the union go through every possible hoop and hurdle and still denied the basic rights where even the basic pay raise hasn’t been done over a period of time.
The fair work commission of Australia and the government disagreed with the actions of RTBU. However, the RTBU could have negotiated and played a better role in resolving the dispute. It was clear that the strike will cause a huge economic disaster to the Australia economy which triggered most of the government officials as well as the general public. Since the members of the RTBU represent a part of the general public, the union could have had a better way resolving matter by considering about the well-being of the society. The union could have gone to the approach of work to rule, silent protest and other various ways of protesting instead of disrupting the commuters. Also the RTBU decide to go for a strike soon after the end of school holidays which did not receive a good feedback from school students and parents. RTBU also could have used a better method of gathering the interest of their members instead of conducting a mobile poll. According to the Facebook page of RTBU many members of the union did not receive to vote regarding the industrial action which did not receive the appreciation of certain members. Therefore, considering all these factors RTBU could have conducted a better survey to gather information of which they could have gather more effective information.
The implications of the Union’s role in NSW dispute
Since the beginning of 1980s, Australia has been experiencing raising inequality and growing concerns of income, power and wealth just as many industrialized countries. Within the workplace there are main concerns regarding the work intensity, working hours, pressure on women, work life balance, underemployment and overemployment, insecurity, demand on employees for flexibility, time management and managerial effort of controlling the culture (Sullivan L – 2018).The upward redistribution of power and income has accompanied the expansion of market liberal and neoliberal policies in most of the industrialised countries without any differentiable improvements in the productivity to justify it. In this context it is questionable if the unions are a part of the solution or the part of the problem. However, the prime objective of a union is fulfilling the needs and protects the rights of their members. In a pluralist environment such as Australia, the unions play a major role. In a contemporary society like Australia, the unions do not face unique problems even though the national factors have worsened them. According to Mitchell, G. (2018) the unions should be capable of using the power resources as environment changes. Many things depend on the union’s capability for learning, outlining the issues, promoting the collaborative actions and networks and formulating actions within time and space.
In a modern pluralist Australia society, the effective union assembly requires power and abilities on numerous levels. In any case, maybe the establishment is the working environment. Working environment impact requires work environment activism. This relies upon powerful delegates with self-conviction, supported by unions, with access to systems giving back-up ideas and advices. Formal preparing of agents is basic yet relatively squandered if assets are not put into follow-up of preparing. Fundamental basic changes can be both costly and disputable.
When it comes the Sydney train dispute the RTBU should have well planned their industrial action instead of causing disruption to the general public and the commuters which did not receive any support from various parties including the fair work commission, Sydney railways and the transport minister. The Australian culture gives a priority to the country’s law and regulations and pluralism identifies the privilege of the majority of the culture to put its culture, religion, language and law above minority societies and cultures. It offers sensible self-sufficiency to minorities, however unequivocally urges them to coordinate by joining around one main law and culture which is the Australian.
The union’s role and the behaviour in this dispute could have created many economic disadvantages to the country and according the economists it was identified the Australian government would have to incur an economic damage of $90 million which the modern Australia society does not approve of. An effective reaction to working environment and national issues requires better approaches for doing and considering things. The need to build up an elective vision is more prominent now than any time before in the modern Australian society. would unions be able to prepare outside labours and members? It is safe to say that they are equipped for commitment in a major discussion about options? It would expect change to the employee mindset correctly. It would require standing up to unions old anti-environmental image yet unions are the only group with resource, members and organising capability to bring every member together and develop alternative solutions for the disputes. in this manner they could be the unions could be the central to the solutions. At the end of the day, unions could be the part of the solution for the employee problems and but however it requires an action plan in developing and inspiring the members and the delegates in the work place, strengthening the expression among the levels, developing the outlining capabilities, managing governance and grievances, advising the members and becoming a learning organization, demarcating unions processes and depending on networks and links with others organizations and movements in the society and using those networks to create a communicative society is what the modern Australian society expects from the unions.
The RTBU and the Sydney train staff such as drivers, stations guards, office workers and controllers threatened the government that they will be going for a 24 hours strike and the industrial action was planned due to dispute of working conditions and an ongoing issues of pay raise. After the negotiation between the RTBU and the NSW government with the fair work commission, it was ruled out the strike cannot be taken part. However, the RTBU was advised that the suspension will last for six weeks and no staff member could take part in any industrial action. During the time period the RTBU and the NSW government negotiated and the RTBU was granted a pay raise of 3% over the next four years. The RTBU played a huge role in standing up for their members’ requirement by going for an industrial action. But however it did not receive any good feedback from the general public as the modern pluralistic Australian society does not approve of such actions. Therefore, the labour unions should make sure that they follow the rules and regulations imposed by the government and conduct industrial actions in a manner which does not harm the economy of the country. The labour unions are responsible for assuring the members rights are assured by the employees but however in there is an accepted manner of conducting industrial actions in the modern Australian society.
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