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MELBOURNE'S railways will be hit by a series of three-hour strikes by Metro Trains' maintenance staff on Monday.
The strikes could lead to cancellations, as the workers taking industrial action are from four major depots where the city's trains are repaired. A second round of stopworks is planned for Wednesday.
The strikes follow negotiations between the operator and four unions representing train repair staff.
Metro and the unions have been negotiating over a new pay deal for several weeks. And a resolution appears unlikely at a meeting planned for tomorrow between Metro and the four unions that now have approval from Fair Work Australia for the stoppages.
A Metro Trains spokeswoman said the operator was not expecting any major disruptions next week, and that negotiations were continuing.
Unions say the rail operator's executive in charge of train maintenance has threatened repeatedly to outsource much work to external contractors if a deal cannot be reached with existing staff. Metro wants more night shifts, and for train maintenance staff to work longer shifts and fewer days, in a bid to help it run more trains.
But the Electrical Trades Union said the changes proposed by Metro were an overreaction. ''Metro's given us two alternatives: either agree to their roster changes, which will see their employees take a hit of between $7000 and $10,000 a year, or ... the company will outsource the work and cop upwards of 100 forced redundancies,'' ETU organiser Gerry Glover said.
Also involved are the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, and the Association of Professional Engineers, Scientists & Managers Australia.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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