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Welcome to the Rail and Maritime Transport Union Online

The RMTU is a union for transport workers in which all members have equal rights, whatever their job.

With rapid change, and increasing competition in the transport industry it is important that workers are protected by a strong, well-resourced union, specialising in all aspects of the transport industry; rail, road and ports.

The structure of the RMTU gives you the opportunity to be fully involved in a democratic union as collective decisions are made which may affect your job and conditions of employment.

You have the opportunity to elect your workplace union representative (delegate), as well as branch and national union representatives. You have a voice at all levels of the RMTU.

Latest Media Releases


Rail union calls for action on Wellington rail line after TAIC report

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

Monday 21st December 2020


The union representing rail workers is calling for action to a make a notorious Wellington rail bottleneck safer.


The Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) released a report today into an incident in November 2019 at the ‘Wellington Throat’, the convergence point of tracks coming into and out of the Wellington Railway Station.


A train failed to stop at a red light and potentially could have collided with another train, known as a ‘signal passed at danger’ event.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson has welcomed the TAIC report which reiterates points made in a 2017 report.


He says KiwiRail needs to fix the signalling system to ensure safety, and says the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) is at fault for not enforcing this prior recommendation.


Mr Butson says in 1980 two trains collided at these signals and two people died.


He says the recommendations made then are the same as they are now: to redesign the ‘Wellington Throat’ and put in train stops.


“This report has to be a catalyst to redesign the tracks to provide proper train separation with safety margins and train stops. There are train stops sitting in Hutt workshops which could be fitted to the signals.”


He says the TAIC report just looks at the facts of the case, but NZTA has the responsibility to hold parties to account.


“Why has NZTA not forced KiwiRail to make the changes to the signalling system recommended by TAIC?”


Mr Butson has says the approach of the New Zealand Transport Authority (NZTA) in this and other investigation processes is flawed.


The NZTA has adopted a posture of strict liability in their investigations which opens workers to legal charges, he says.


“This is treating workers as the problem rather than fixing systemic issues, and is entirely the wrong approach.”


The RMTU had asked the Government look at the approach and function of NZTA as a priority.




For more information contact Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson on 0274 962461


Click here to download this media release


KiwiRail needs to operate for the long term benefit to the economy, not for short term profit

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday 18 December 2020


The union representing rail workers says KiwiRail needs to be turned into a ‘public benefit entity’ so it can operate for the greater good of New Zealand.


The Government has recently asked the Treasury and the Ministry of Transport to consider KiwiRail’s “entity form” as the current State-owned Enterprise (SOE) model is not working.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says SOE legislation requires Kiwirail to have an overriding commercial focus, and this short-term approach undermines any long term strategy for rail as essential infrastructure.


The SOE model works against the retention of services on lines which may be marginal today but may become essential under a new transition industry, he says.


Mr Butson says an example is TranzRail removing the double tracking between Mosgiel and Dunedin, which would have been useful today for moving the Fonterra tonnage from Mosgiel to Port Chalmers, and in pathways for a future that may include regional passenger trains.


He says KiwiRail’s SOE status restricts the ability of any Government, present or future, to give directions to the company which may be of national benefit – an example of which was the Government’s intervention to preserve the electric locomotives on the North Island Main Trunk Line.


Mr Butson says the RMTU also believes the short term incentives programme paid to senior KiwiRail managers is out of control, and a return to oversight of the State Services Commission would rein in this plundering of public money.


“Rail is now seen as an essential element of our logistics and passenger supply chain and is in need of significant investment in our national interest, and so it is only right for it to be returned to being a crown public benefit entity.”




For more information contact Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson on 0274962461


Click here to download this media release


Port Otago workers launch “campaign of resistance” over Mismanagement

Joint Media Release Rail & Maritime Transport Union / Maritime Union of New Zealand

hursday 17th December, 2020 IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Workers at Port Otago are going on the front foot in a public campaign to change aggressive management tactics which are threatening the future of the region’s export hub.


A meeting on Wednesday 16 December of over one hundred members of the combined port unions, the Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ), and the Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU), unanimously passed a motion that ‘This meeting of Combined Unions at Port Otago call upon management to abandon their aggressive approach to industrial relations at our Port and endorse a campaign of resistance.’


RMTU South Island Industrial Organizer John Kerr says the meeting brought together a united workforce who had contributed a massive amount to the region over a tough and uncertain year.


Port workers are essential workers on the front line, whose challenging jobs were complicated by dealing with overseas crews during a pandemic, he says.


Mr Kerr says Port Otago workers were no longer prepared to deal with aggressive management attitudes that were out of step with what was required during a vulnerable economic situation.


The meeting heard about management bullying, a ‘sinking lid’ approach to staffing and contemptuous treatment of union representatives.


A campaign plan to change management’s approach and achieve a more co-operative industrial relations environment was endorsed. 


He says similar problems over recent years at the Port of Lyttelton concluded with a clear out of senior management and board members.




For more information, contact

RMTU South Island Industrial Organizer John Kerr on 0272464941


Click here to download this media release


Rail union calls for strategic rethink on foundry

Media Release Rail & Maritime Transport Union

Monday 2nd November, 2020 IMMEDIATE RELEASE


The union representing rail workers says the closure of a Dunedin foundry could be turned around by strategic leadership from industry and Government.


Bradken are closing their foundry operations at the Kiwirail-owned Hillside site at the end of 2020.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union National Secretary Wayne Butson says it would be possible for KiwiRail to step in and set up an in-house production unit.


He says the Union has raised the issue with KiwiRail management and Government.


“Taking back control of the foundry and maintaining employment of highly skilled workers is a shovel ready project that should be a focus of the Government and a state owned enterprise that is the recipient of large influxes of taxpayer funds.”


The closure has been hinted at for months, but was only confirmed by Bradken in mid October.


Bradken purchased the foundry off KiwiRail in 2012 as part of the National Governments closure of Hillside.


“The foundry still produces castings for locally manufactured rolling stock not yet replaced by imported freight wagons, so we don't know where Kiwirail would source these in near future.”


The foundry also produces consumable castings for Tiwai Point smelter which despite likely closure is still operating for an unknown period of time, says Mr Butson.


There would be challenges in a setting up a new foundry operation but they were not insurmountable.


The closure of the plant and loss of its skilled workforce would mean the end of the only large capacity foundry in the South Island and possibly the country.


Mr Butson says there needed to be strategic thinking about maintaining an engineering hub based on rail but also servicing current and future needs for other industries.


He says the lesson of last year from COVID-19 was New Zealand must ensure it is able to produce essential goods and services in a volatile global situation.





For more information contact:

Rail and Maritime Transport Union National Secretary Wayne Butson on 0274962461


Click here to download this media release







Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling - Petition


Dunedin Workers Proposal - click here


Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Facebook- click here


Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling Blog - click here


Railway workers protest mothballing of Taieri Gorge

Taieri Gorge workers marched through Dunedin streets to deliver the mayor a letter this morning. Tuesday 2 June 2020


City Council backing Dunedin Rail commuter trial

Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling media release Friday 15 May 2020 - click here to download media release


Workers at Dunedin Railways step up fight to protect services and jobs

Friday 8th May 2020


Workers at Dunedin Railways Limited are disappointed and angry that their Board and Senior Management are continuing to push a low quality plan putting the future of the Taieri Gorge Railway and other local services in jeopardy.


DRL management today announced they would proceed with a “mothballing” plan that would effectively close the service with no guarantee of re-opening.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union Otago Branch Secretary Dave Kearns says the plan to mothball Dunedin Railways, including the iconic Taieri Gorge Railway, was unacceptable.


“The mothballing proposal is vague and meaningless, and the consultation process has been totally inadequate for a decision of this magnitude.”


A proposal with positive alternatives had been submitted to DRL and presented to Dunedin City Council, and workers had taken their concerns to local MPs.


Mr Kearns says after workers first found their jobs were in jeopardy through the media, their faith in the process had been shattered.


He says there is an agenda at the Board level to run down and close the business, which had been their first preference.


However, workers are determined to fight for the jobs and keep Dunedin Railways rolling, he says, with strong community backing emerging around the Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling campaign.


A Facebook page Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling had gained 1600 likes and a petition to stop the mothballing plan had gained over 1500 signatures in the last several days.



Click here to download this Media Release


Dunedin Railways workers propose positive solutions to prevent closure

Thursday 30th April 2020


Workers at Dunedin Railways Limited (DRL) have put forward a proposal to reinvigorate the company, retaining the iconic Taieri Gorge Railway and saving up to 70 jobs.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union Otago Branch Secretary Dave Kearns says the union, representing about fifty workers at Dunedin Railways, has today submitted the proposal (attached) as part of the consultation process with management.

Dunedin Railways is 100% owned by Dunedin City Holdings Limited, the business arm of the Dunedin City Council.

Mr Kearns says the DRL Board of Directors had a ‘negative mindset’ and had recommended closing the railway to the Dunedin City Council, blaming falling revenues due to the COVID19 pandemic.

Dunedin City Councillors had voted to mothball the railway instead, but Mr Kearns says he is concerned that they have not been given the correct information about how this would work.

‘The DRL plan is meaningless as it is so lacking in detail. This raises questions regarding the competence and fitness of DRL’s board and senior management.’

Mr Kearns says there are a number of opportunities for rail services that have been ignored.

Options included the reconfiguration of the business away from the cruise ship market to the domestic market.

There was potential for staff and rolling stock to provide commuter services to local destinations such as Mosgiel and Port Chalmers, as well as the establishment of long distance passenger services between Dunedin and other cities on the main south line.

Other possibilities included the sale or transfer of ownership of the Wingatui to Middlemarch line to KiwiRail, with DRL to operate like other heritage rail concerns and pay a fee for track access whilst refocusing their business.

The Union was calling for genuine engagement by DRL management with staff and their union to investigate alternative options for the future of DRL, he says.

Regarding the DCC’s request for ‘options for DRL’s operating and governance structure in the interim’, the RMTU is calling for the immediate dismissal of the current board and the appointment of a new board with staff representation.

Mr Kearns says a Facebook page Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling had gained over 1200 supporters this week.


For more information contact Rail and Maritime Transport Union Otago Branch Secretary Dave Kearns on 0278893292


Rail and Maritime Transport Union South Island Organizer John Kerr on 027 246 4941


Click here to download this Media Release


Click here to download more Media Releases



RMTU / KIWIRAIL Health & Safety -

Click here to go to the RMTU / KIWIRAIL H&S page


The New Zealand Locomotive Engineer's
Sickness, Accident and Death Benefit Fund:

A new advertisement for the LE SAD Fund that can be downloaded, printed and posted on noticeboards for LE's Click here to download the poster and Download application form


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