UPDATE: 4.45pm: V/Line chief executive James Pinder says planned industrial action leading into Christmas by workers was "extremely disappointing"
Mr Pinder said the rail authority will hold two more meetings this week with the Rail Tram and Bus Union in a bid to reach an agreement that would halt any industrial action which could effect passengers.
"V/Line has this morning been informed of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union's intention to take protected industrial action over the coming weeks," Mr Pinder said.
"We will be doing everything we possibly can to minimise the impact of protected industrial action, to help ensure our passengers can continue to get where they need to go during the festive season.
"There are two meetings scheduled this week with our workers' representatives about the new V/Line operations workplace agreement and we will continue to negotiate in good faith."
Mr Pinder confirmed V/Line would give as much notice as it could to passengers regarding planned industrial action should it take place next week.
UPDATE: BALLARAT commuters could face another day of rail disruption with V/Line workers set to walk off the job for a full day on December 12 over their ongoing dispute with the state government.
The Rail, Trams and Bus Union (RTBA) has announced a series of rolling stops between December 11 and 20 which includes full-day stoppages on every regional line during the next two weeks.
Unless the workers and the state government can come to an agreement within the next seven days, the rolling stoppages will start on December 11 where no services will run on the Bendigo and Swan Hill lines.
The following day is Ballarat's turn with scheduled trains also on the Ararat and Maryborough lines to be cancelled.
Trains are then scheduled for all day stoppages on December 17 (Traralgon and Bairnsdale), December 18 (Albury, Shepparton and Seymour) and finally on Friday December 20 on the Warrnmabool and Geelong lines.
The stop work comes after V/Line employees voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action over conditions.
Overtime bans and rolling stop works will take place between December 11 and 20 December including stoppages of six minutes which will result in interrupted and altered services for regional commuters.
RTBU Secretary Luba Grigorovich said 98 per cent of surveyed employees were in favour of industrial action over what they say are attacks on the conditions of conductors, customer service employees, driver, controllers, shunters and authorised officers.
"This campaign is all about conditions", Ms Grigorovitch said, "V/Line's attacks on staff have not been well received and members are ready to stand up."
"Our members take great pride in their work, getting people from A to B, but when Government and the company team up to attack their ability to deliver that service they take it very personally.
"The government is expecting V/Line workers to do more with less, more services less support, and our members just won't stand for it."
Ms Grigorovich said despite recent upgrades, including the $500 million Ballarat line upgrade which is expecting to see new services added to see frequency every 40 minutes, employees remained working in conditions from the 1980s.
"If there is no ribbon to cut, or a shiny project to announce it is clear that the government isn't interested.
"The RTBU is always ready to negotiate when V/Line and the government are ready to take these talks seriously."
The State Government said in a response on Tuesday, "We expect negotiations to continue in good faith between the parties involved."
EARLIER: ROLLING stoppages on V/Line services could begin within seven days if the state government does not listen to worker demands over condition the Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) says
V/Line staff on Monday voted overwhelmingly on protected industrial action, with 98 per cent of RTBU members endorsing the action which could see stoppages of any time from six minutes to 48 hours.
It is understood the union action centres around working condition, more-so than pay grades.
The RTBU says members have been seeking a new enterprise agreement with V/Line since January this year, with the current enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) having expired four months ago.
RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch said while the state government had spent money on long overdue upgrades to tracks, including the $500 million Ballarat line upgrade, the increased patronage and services had meant more was being expected of workers.
She said workers were keen to know whether they could spend Christmas with the families or not.
"V/Line is an organisation in need of resources, we can't expect to run a railway in 2019 on the staffing levels of 1986," Ms Grigorovitch said.
"Regional Victoria deserves not only better train services, but also the operational staffing requirements to ensure reliability.
"With over 98 percent of members who voted endorsing industrial action it is clear members are frustrated by slow progress and V/Line's efforts to attack training standards and a reasonable disciplinary process."
The ballot has approved industrial action that covers the full range of V/Lines operational and frontline staff including workplace stoppages ranging from six minutes to 48 hours and also includes bans on working overtime.
A spokesperson for Ms Grigorovitch said on Monday afternoon that the government was "on notice" while any stoppages would be aimed at limiting the effect on passengers.
A spokesperson for the State Government said "We expect negotiations to continue in good faith between the parties involved."
- The Courier
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