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Low balance opal sign by the beach
Photograph: Anna Kucera

NSW transport minister is threatening to take rail workers to court amid Opal reader shutdown

Tensions between the Rail, Tram and Bus Union and the Transport Minister continue to rise

Written by
Elizabeth McDonald
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The latest instalment of the drama between the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the State Government – specifically, transport minister David Elliot – could potentially lead to the union being sued by Elliot. The story has more twists and turns than a snake with a bellyache but long story short, the union last week announced they will be turning off Opal readers at major stations "indefinitely" from Wednesday, September 21 as part of ongoing industrial protests.

That means free train rides for all (despite 90 per cent of us continuing to tap on when gates across Sydney were left open recently).

According to the ABC, Elliott has been given legal advice that the RTBU’s threat is against the law and said he will take any worker seen switching the readers off to court.

“Prima facie we believe it’s illegal,” he said. “I will go down to any court in the country to make sure that any person who is seen to be doing this is prosecuted.”

According to The Daily Telegraph, the RTBU has also established a “hotline” that union members can call to find out how to turn off Opal reader machines, presumably incognito and to be honest, this particular public-transporting journalist is living for it. 

The latest industrial action comes off the back of a longstanding dispute over safety concerns and a new pay deal for rail workers. The RTBU is seeking a pay rise of 3.5 per cent, which is higher than the government’s offer to increase annual wages by three per cent.

Given how out of control expensive it is to live in our fair city and the chaos that has ensued across Sydney as a result of the industrial action, maybe that half a per cent should just be given to the workers and we can all move on.

In the meantime, make the most of free train rides with the best day trips from Sydney using only public transport.

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