02:08 pm, Monday 5 March, 2012
Unions and the NSW government are opposing the proposal, which would throw out a reform stemming from the official inquiries into the Glenbrook and Waterfall train disasters.
National Transport Commission’s draft statement which will be discussed by state transport ministers in May recommends that NSW standards be relaxed instead of forcing other states to strengthen laws on safe working.
NSW train drivers can only work to maximum shifts of 12 hours when working in teams or nine hours when there is only one driver on board.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the proposed reforms would disregard those restrictions and allow individual train operators to apply their own fatigue management systems in conjunction with a national regulator. The Herald further reports that NSW Transport Minister, Gladys Berejiklian, is convincing state counterparts to reject the proposal.
“I won’t support any changes which diminish safety, as safety is always our main priority. The matter will be discussed when transport ministers from around the nation meet in May,” said Ms Berejiklian.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) on Monday expressed their opposition on the proposal.
“There’s no safe level of fatigue and to scrap maximum shifts to make life easier for operators flies in the face of safe work practices. Cost should never come before safety and it’s alarming that a responsible body such as the National Transport Commission would put its name to this report,” said RTBU national secretary, Bob Nanva.
“If harmonisation is simply a race to the bottom based on slashing costs it won’t serve the public interest.”