NSW Government’s refusal to allow training puts commuter safety at risk – Sydney Trains engineers to ‘stop work’ in protest

Engineers and other professionals working for Sydney Trains will undertake a two hour ‘stop work’ industrial action this Friday to protest against the NSW Government’s refusal to allow critical training and professional development, which they feel puts commuter safety at risk.

As part of negotiations on their enterprise agreement through their union Professionals Australia, Sydney Trains engineers have made a modest claim for three days for continuing professional development, which would lead to professional recognition and allow them to update and maintain their skills. This claim has been repeatedly rejected by the NSW Government.

Professionals Australia NSW Director Gordon Brock said the NSW Government’s refusal to allow Sydney Trains engineers access to training and continuing professional development (CPD) set a dangerous precedent which may put commuter safety at risk.

“Sydney Trains engineers are responsible for overseeing maintenance, upgrades and modifications for all Sydney and NSW Trains and the complex rail signal system they operate on.

"It’s absolutely vital that their skills and training be maintained to the highest standard.

“But the NSW Government has repeatedly refused to grant this request which means that Sydney Trains engineers have insufficient capacity to undertake the further training they need to keep NSW commuters safe.

Mr Brock also said that, by refusing to provide Sydney Trains engineers the opportunity to undertake CPD, the NSW Government was putting them in a difficult situation.

"Sydney Trains currently has no requirement for any of the engineers that perform engineering work on the rail network to be registered. Registered engineers are required to complete 150 hours of CPD every three years to maintain their registered professional engineer status.

“Sydney Trains engineers are seeking support for all engineers to be able to be recognised as Professional Registered Engineers and have access to three days CPD training per year as part of their conditions of employment in the enterprise agreement.

“With the recent revelations that Sydney’s trams and ferries are riddled with cracks, the NSW Government, now more than ever, should be focused on ensuing that Sydney’s trains are safe and fault free.

Justine McCarthy Deputy Director – NSW Professionals Australia said it was astonishing that Sydney Trains did not require its engineers to be registered.

“Currently, there is no requirement for a single employee to have engineering registration nor undertake CPD at Sydney Trains.

“In effect, anyone could call themselves an engineer at Sydney Trains. Members are funding their own CPD event today as it’s the only training they are entitled to.”

Professionals Australia delegates have also spoken about Sydney Trains lack of support for both registration and professional development.

“Members have told me that there is just no incentive to get registered, given Sydney Trains management’s lack of commitment to professional development for engineers and recognition of the skills required.” Kenny Tsang PA delegate

“Management have said that people should get registered out of their own interest when in fact engineers want to engage in professional development to ensure they are delivering expert advice and protecting the community’s safety.” Warren Adams PA delegate.

Sydney Trains engineers and other professionals will undertake a ‘stop work’ meeting between 10am to 12:15pm, Friday 10 December where they will run their own continuing professional development session in protest. This particular time was chosen to cause minimal disruption to Sydney commuters.

Mr Brock said that, in the interests of commuter safety, it was critical that the NSW Government support our claim for three days of dedicated CPD and engineer registration for Sydney Trains engineers.

“We urgently call on the NSW Government to support engineer registration at Sydney Trains and the claim for up to three days CPD for all registered professionals, so that they can continue to keep NSW commuters safe.”

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414 783 405