A railway union plan to shut down the Opal card readers of the NSW transport network will cost the government about $2 million every day.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) is pushing ahead with a plan to deactivate the state’s Opal readers so that commuters can’t pay for travel, as part of its ongoing industrial action.
Over the weekend, the union withdrew its original application to disable readers after a legal threat from the government – filing a new application on Monday.
Treasurer Matt Kean says shutting down the Opal card readers will deprive the state of resources to pay disadvantaged train drivers, with the money the government needs to fund essential services.
Deactivating the readers on Sydney trains and the subway would cost the government between $1.5 million and $2 million in lost revenue every day, AAP understands.
The move would cost the government about $50 million if the shutdown lasted a month.
“My message to the RTBU is that you stop using the public as your political toy,” Kean told reporters on Tuesday.
‘It has to stop. We will continue to stand up for the people of this state and expose their shameful behavior.”
On Monday, RTBU secretary Alex Claassens said he was confident the new submission would be successful.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet says the government stands ready to respond if further industrial action comes to the fore or if commuters are unable to pay for their travel.
“If that action is taken, that is, another strike that … will inconvenience people across the state, we will try to end that agreement in the Fair Work Commission (FWC),” he told 2GB on Tuesday.
“We will also try to end any industrial activity on the subway system that costs taxpayers billions.”
The prime minister first threatened to terminate the agreement after a month of industrial action in August if further action was taken.
The union said it was confident it would prevail and readers would drop out as it continued its long industrial campaign over the safety of a new intercity train fleet and wages and conditions for workers.
The union believes its new request to disable readers will stand.
“It was just a desperate attempt to stop us from opening those gates and allowing NSW commuters to travel for free,” Claassens said.
A hearing in the FWC in the next 24 hours will decide whether to disable the Opal scanners.
If the commission accepts the promotion, the readers will be disabled 10 days later.