Greedy union bosses from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) are poised to strike over their claim for a massive 4 per cent pay rise each year for 4 years for local train drivers from South Australian taxpayers in the middle of a global pandemic – the greatest economic challenge of our time.
The extraordinary wage claim – part of ongoing enterprise bargaining negotiations underway with the State Government – would see the top paid train driver’s base salary increase to around $161,000 (plus overtime pay) after four years.
It would cost taxpayers approximately $190 million for 368 employees over the lifetime of the enterprise agreement (to 2024).
RTBU bosses have now applied to the Fair Work Commission seeking permission to ballot their members to take industrial action, such as strikes, which could have the potential to significantly disrupt train services and commuters.
Treasurer Rob Lucas described the wage claim as “utterly tone deaf” and union bosses as “completely out of step” with community expectations and what taxpayers can afford.
“On what planet are these union bosses living on if they think a 4 per cent pay rise each year for 4 years in the middle of a global pandemic is justified, especially when the current rate of inflation is below 1 per cent?” said Mr Lucas.
“Don’t they realise we are facing the greatest economic challenge of our time, when many of their fellow South Australians are fighting hard just to hang on to their jobs, while others have sadly lost theirs?
“At a time when workers right across the country are also having to take pay cuts to avoid job losses, here we have another example of greedy union bosses demonstrating that they are completely out of touch with reality.
“No amount of strike action is going to give South Australian taxpayers any more money to spend on unreasonable salary increases.”
In May 2020, tram drivers agreed to a 2 per cent per annum pay increase.
The RTBU union bosses’ wage claim comes just months after nurses also overwhelmingly voted to accept a 2 per cent per annum pay increase, and SA Water employees voted to accept a 1.2 per cent per annum pay rise.
Mr Lucas said the Government was willing to engage in sensible negotiations to deliver reasonable salary increases that taxpayers could afford.