A Further Open Letter To The Minister For Transport

A FURTHER Open Letter to the Minister for Transport,
The Right Honourable Jacinta Allan, MP.
Level 20, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC. 3000.

Dear Ms. Allan;
As taxpayers and voters, we would like to ask you some questions in regard to what exactly is the current franchise holder of the suburban railways up to?
We are aware that your government is required to announce by November 2016 if the current incumbent (MTM Consortium) will have their contract renewed.
We are also well aware that their contract does not expire until November 2017.
However, after your forced intervention into the debacle that was Sunstone Resources, and after you dispensed with Dobbs and Wild, we had assumed that the incumbent operators, MTM, would not try – nor be allowed – to manipulate the existing agreement again.
But the question, once again, has to be asked;
What is Lezala up to this time?
His latest staff bulletin states that he has set up a new company and that this new company will have ‘oversight’ over the franchise operator company MTM.
Without ministerial intervention, Mr. Lezala’s plan of transferring the MTM workforce and their assets into the company known as Sunstone Resources would have been one of the most blatant scams that was ever perpetrated against the Victorian taxpayers and the workforce of MTM.
It would have ultimately fleeced all MTM workers of their entitlements, had the minister not been forced, however reluctantly, to intervene to prevent the plan.
The ‘plan’ would now appear to be resurrected again in the guise of Metro Trains Australia.
Below is an extract from the latest Metro Staff Bulletin, which is appended for your withering perusal.
Let’s, dissect it.
“We have restructured our business into two separate entities.”
That is what Lezala has stated, but it is another blatant lie, and we can prove it.
Below are links from the Government’s own business registration website;

mta bus name
You will notice that the business name ‘Metro Trains Australia’ was registered on the 24th August 2015.
You will notice that they also registered the business name ‘Mass Transit Australasia’ on the 29th April 2015.
And you will also notice that they registered the name, ‘Metro Trains Australasia’ on 18th December 2014.
Now the business “MTA” is NOT currently a consortium partner, and considering that the company was only registered one year ago on the 24th of August 2015 how is it that this new company can have “Oversight” of the company that has held the franchise agreement for the past six years.
Oversight would assume, (would it not?), that for all intents and purposes that the new company ‘MTA’ can dictate how the original company can operate.
This situation is highly questionable as not only was this company set up after the franchise agreement was signed, making it a legally binding agreement. This new company has no legal standing to ‘Oversee’ MTM because they are not a signatory to the original agreement.
That agreement being a legally binding contract between three consortium partners which include, John Holland (Infrastructure) UGL (Train Maintenance) and MTR (Administration).
So the question must be asked how can they just add this business to the three partner consortium without government approval?
Or do they already have government approval minister?
And what of the other two businesses recently registered, but not mentioned? Do they also have ‘Oversight’ over MTM?
And is the CEO of MTA the same CEO of the other entities? Of course, the multi-BILLION question has to be, what exactly is the purpose of setting up these three new businesses?
Exactly what they tried to do with Sunstone, and the government was forced to override PTV’s initial approval given to MTM in what would seem to have been some sort of behind the scenes deal, without the approval of the deal being discussed and ratified on the floor of parliament.
And here we go again. They admit that MTA WILL maintain and have oversight over MTM.
How so, Minister?
Considering that this is a brand new company and is not mentioned in the train franchise agreement as a consortium partner.
So who has approved this deal, someone from PTV or you yourself?
They admit that their original business is now TWO businesses and Lezala has appointed himself as Managing Director of the ‘new’ company even though he has appointed Mike Houghton as the CEO of MTM – the position previously held by Lezala, himself.
So a couple of other questions Minister.
“MTA’s initial focus”……?
What exactly does that mean?
That foreshadows that once they renew their contract, other, as yet unspecified things will follow. What other things might they be?
And why would you set up three new businesses and suggest one of them is to develop a strategy to have their contract renewed.
That makes no business sense at all and considering that these same people set up a ‘new’ department to oversee the getting of the Cranborne/Pakenham rail corridor project without the need to set up a ‘New Company”
IF the current franchise is with the company MTM, which comprises of three companies consisting of John Holland, UGL and MTR and they want to re-negotiate the franchise then what exactly is the purpose of setting up a new company? And if the franchise renewal is agreed to by the government, then which company will it be registered with?
Now, Minister, it is very important that we know the answer to this question because it may have serious implications for the workers now employed by MTM because the current EBA is between the RTBU and MTM. NOT MTA.
Could this be a roundabout way of circumventing the current Fair Work rules?
The Fair Work Act has the ‘BOOT’ requirement; the Better Off Over all Test, which must ensure that no worker is worse off.
So what would stop this new company, which has no EBA in place, putting everyone on individual contracts?
Should they be allowed to set up a new Franchise agreement under this shonky arrangement by putting everyone on a work contract – or worse, introducing casualization and thereby, cutting conditions, if not cutting wages, which would possibly then meet the Fair Work fairness test?
And let us not forget, that the public servants at FWA are as pension sensitive as everyone else and will do exactly as they are told.
As they have all the way through.
Let us further remember that FWA is a creature of the Liberal Government, since nurtured and nourished by Labor.
Having said that, one could surmise that if the company that now operates the suburban rail system we know as MTM was to cease trading as an entity in the near future and a completely new company took over the day to day operations of running the suburban rail system, then the workers would have no workplace agreement with that new company and the company could be free to employ whomever it pleased, and at a wage substantially lower that what is currently paid now.
The appalling dispute currently playing out at Carlton & United Breweries is a timely example of just such a manipulation of the laws of the land for the profit of rapacious, tax evading, multi-national fraudsters.
Fraudsters whom Labor appointed, enabled, and continue to support with vast sums of taxpayer’s money.
This scenario would put an end to the unionised workforce within the rail industry – a workforce which has been unionised for more than a century.
In fact, it threatens every Unionist, every Union and every worker in Australia.
Is that Labor’s ultimate plan – their ultimate betrayal?
If the workers became contract workers within this ‘New” company there would be no need for a union.
We repeat; that the existing EA couldn’t be registered with the ‘new’ company as the ‘new’ company doesn’t have any legal standing within the terms of the current agreement.
So the question still stands.
Why the need to set up a new company just to bid for the franchise renewal?
And if the new company, MTA, is awarded a new agreement then that would mean that MTM did NOT get a ‘renewal’, because to obtain a renewal there would have to have been a previous agreement and as we know, there is no previous agreement with the ‘new’ company.
It would have to be a NEW franchise agreement with a new company and therefore, as it is not a renewal, other operators should have the right to tender also, and if not, why not?
Surely this exposes the whole tendering process to a court challenge and some very awkward questions might be asked of the minister by the court, the opposition and the media over the operation of MTM.
We believe we can predict, with confidence, that just such a legal challenge would be forthcoming.
Now if you tie this in with what we know about the plan to employ what will be known as “Line Drivers” as well as “Group Drivers”, that is, downgrading all drivers qualifications by teaching them how to drive only one train on one line and reducing the rules and regulations that drivers are required to be familiar with across the entire network. We know that MTM management has stated that they expect to employ ‘Line Drivers’ within 18 to 24 months from now, based on a training course that spans only six weeks.
That’s right, Reducing the training from the current 72 weeks down to six weeks.
Is this the real reason that Lezala wants to establish a completely ‘New’ company, so that it will be easy for them to achieve their goals and put all new employees on contracts at a much lower rate of pay.
Is that the unspoken agenda of Labor as well?
MTM have completely stuffed up the existing training scheme, so much so that they now have had overseen the largest number of SPAD’s (Signals Passed At Danger) since the inception of the privatisation of the suburban railways.
The annual (manipulated) tally is around 125 – now that’s something to be truly proud of!
And if the government – YOUR government, Minister – allows this new scam to be perpetrated upon the taxpayer then this government, and you with it, will be held responsible for the chaos and deaths that will surely follow.
This situation will lead to mass deaths on the rails, but it would appear that this government (and its predecessors) have no real interest in what the private operators are up to as long as there are no bad news stories.
We believe that something very fishy is transpiring at the moment and the government should be compelled to investigate.
To that end, we will widely circulate our concerns – yes, even to media that MTM seek to bribe and control with advertising revenue, ‘exclusives’ and preferential treatment. We will point the accusing finger, and we will give evidence in the appropriate forums, at the appropriate time.
You have been fully informed throughout your tenure (as have your predecessors) and you cannot escape personal responsibility for your actions and inactions.
There is no ‘Nuremberg Defence’ for a Minister of the Crown.

Better off overall test

Before approving an enterprise agreement, the Commission must ensure the agreement passes the better off overall test.
This test requires that each of the employees to be covered by the agreement are better off overall than under the relevant modern award.
The better off overall test is outlined in s.193 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
But the definition of “better off” is a subjective and rubbery concept that can be manipulated by the ‘pension sensitive’ government appointees at FWA at the direction of their political ‘masters’ – too bad for ‘the workers’ then! The SAME workers, who are the CORE constituency of the Labor Party.

Subdivision C—Better off overall test

193 Passing the better off overall test

When a non-greenfields agreement passes the better off overall test

(1) An enterprise agreement that is not a greenfields agreement passes the better off overall test under this section if the FWC is satisfied, as at the test time, that each award covered employee, and each prospective award covered employee, for the agreement would be better off overall if the agreement applied to the employee than if the relevant modern award applied to the employee.

FWC must disregard individual flexibility arrangement

(2) If, under the flexibility term in the relevant modern award, an individual flexibility arrangement has been agreed to by an award covered employee and his or her employer, the FWC must disregard the individual flexibility arrangement for the purposes of determining whether the agreement passes the better off overall test.

When a greenfields agreement passes the better off overall test

(3) A greenfields agreement passes the better off overall test under this section if the FWC is satisfied, as at the test time, that each prospective award covered employee for the agreement would be better off overall if the agreement applied to the employee than if the relevant modern award applied to the employee.

Award covered employee

(4) An award covered employee for an enterprise agreement is an employee who:

(a) is covered by the agreement; and

(b) at the test time, is covered by a modern award (the relevant modern award) that:

(i) is in operation; and

(ii) covers the employee in relation to the work that he or she is to perform under the agreement; and

(iii) covers his or her employer.

Prospective award covered employee

(5) A prospective award covered employee for an enterprise agreement is a person who, if he or she were an employee at the test time of an employer covered by the agreement:

(a) would be covered by the agreement; and

(b) would be covered by a modern award (the relevant modern award) that:

(i) is in operation; and

(ii) would cover the person in relation to the work that he or she would perform under the agreement; and

(iii) covers the employer.

Test time

(6) The test time is the time the application for approval of the agreement by the FWC was made under subsection 182(4) or section 185.

FWC may assume employee better off overall in certain circumstances

(7) For the purposes of determining whether an enterprise agreement passes the better off overall test, if a class of employees to which a particular employee belongs would be better off if the agreement applied to that class than if the relevant modern award applied to that class, the FWC is entitled to assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that the employee would be better off overall if the agreement applied to the employee.



mta news bulletin.png

Further Reading:






  1. Stan

    Pre the 1999 privatisation, the rail system had employees passionate about rail, who worked hard to maintain a system that was massively underfunded. Post 1999 there was still some of that passion there, particularly with the smaller companies. Then there was Metro. A company whose sole purpose is to get rid of experienced rail staff and replace with overseas staff/management and to downskil its workers. We have gone from a passionate rail group to a group whose only interest is to line their own pockets.


  2. Cap'n Slappin' 'em

    Some of those people live on within the system, and they, and some who were forced out, are working against the waste and corruption; the incompetence, the company; PTV and the government.
    Not all – perhaps not even most.
    But the dedication and passion is still there, with the ultimate objective of returning the system to PUBLIC ownership and management, for the ultimate benefit of the taxpayer.
    Their names may never be known, their efforts never recognised, and the ‘hitchhikers’ will claim the credit when it comes.
    But don’t ‘give up the ship’ just yet!


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