Opal card system triggers job cuts: Union

Summary:More than 130 jobs in Sydney rail could go with the introduction of the new swipe-on Opal ticketing system, a union claims.

The New South Wales government plans to slash front-line and supporting customer service jobs on Monday, according to the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU), as the auditor-general has reported a 7 percent rise in passenger complaints.

RTBU Secretary Alex Classens says the union was told that cuts will come with the Opal Card rollout.

Sydney Trains predicts 62 sales staff at various stations will go, along with 69 staff from a division that handles station facilities, passenger information, and feedback. The 69 staff will be forced to reapply for a possible 49 jobs, Classens said.

"The government has known about the Opal Card system for months yet these workers are finding out just weeks before Christmas that they may soon be jobless," he said.

Also announced on Monday was a plan to outsource electrical jobs on the Greater Sydney rail network, revealed by the NSW Electrical Trades Union NSW (ETU).

The union said 21 electrical workers from RailCorp have been told that they will not have a job next year due to a restructure.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said those changes were proposals only, and Monday was the start of consultation with staff and unions.

Berejiklian told AAP that her reforms would ultimately mean more staff "out on stations", but the Opal rollout made cuts to ticket-selling positions likely.

"New technology will mean customers won't have to ever queue to buy a ticket again, so naturally, there could be some reduction in the need for staff at some ticket windows down the track," she said in a statement.

"We have always said our reforms will see more staff out on stations helping passengers, dealing with incidents and taking responsibility for their stations and the services being provided.

"Our staff will be more visible to customers and located where they are needed most."

The Opal system is expected to be in place across 40 ferry wharves, more than 300 train stations, and over 5,000 buses and light rail by 2015.

Topics: Government : AU

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