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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


Budget funding for rail a huge and positive contribution

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release


Friday 21st May 2021


The union representing rail workers says a major boost to rail funding in the Budget is going to make a huge and positive contribution to modernizing the transport sector.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says the Budget confirmed the Government’s strong, forward-focussed approach to rail as part of an integrated transport system.


Mr Butson says rail has suffered from under investment for decades, but a commitment of $1.3 billion in Budget 2021 was a game changer, and would build on investments over the previous two years.


The purchase of new locomotives and rolling stock for KiwiRail, together with investment in the reliability and safety of our rail network, would help secure an effective supply chain. 


Mr Butson says the funding is a vote of confidence in regional New Zealand, including the building of a new facility to assemble wagons in Hillside, Dunedin.


“This investment approach means the development of long term capability and skills in New Zealand regions, which will contribute to our economic recovery from COVID-19.”




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


Click here to download this media release


KiwiRail Locomotives need to be audited for slave labour

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

Wednesday 5th May 2021


The union for rail workers wants assurances new KiwiRail locomotives are not involved in slave labour in China.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says new information about the Chinese company CRRC using slave labour is a major concern.


Mr Butson says the Government needs to ensure KiwiRail check its suppliers are not engaged in human rights abuses.


KiwiRail was a State Owned Enterprise and any involvement with unethical practices would place both KiwiRail and New Zealand in a compromised position, he says.


CRRC was named in February 2020 by Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as one of 82 “foreign and Chinese companies potentially directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019”.


KiwiRail recently ordered 10 new diesel locomotives from the company, on top of 63 it has bought since 2009.


The Greater Wellington Regional Council is now investigating whether 98 electric buses it is about to lease were implicated.


CRRC have a massive contract to build 65 metro trains for Melbourne, and Government officials have been called before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal in fallout from the slave labour issue.


Mr Butson says a statement from KiwiRail that they did not have the skills or experience to carry out human rights assessments was irresponsible.


He says the situation was now a matter of public record and public concern.


“KiwiRail is a large State Owned Enterprise that has the capability – and responsibility – to be across any issues that could damage its reputation or New Zealand’s reputation.”


Mr Butson says it is obvious KiwiRail needed to review its procurement policies, as the DL locomotives had already seen major problems, such as asbestos contamination and poor performance.




For more information contact Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) General Secretary Wayne Butson on 027 496 2461


Click here to download this media release


Port unions demand stronger penalties for negligent employers

Joint media release Maritime Union of New Zealand/Rail and Maritime Transport Union

For Immmediate Release Wednesday 21st April 2021


New Zealand’s two port unions have spoken out on Workers Memorial Day (28 April), demanding improvements to health and safety in New Zealand ports.


The Maritime Union of New Zealand (MUNZ) and Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) represent thousands of port workers throughout New Zealand.


Leaders of the two unions say port workers are being killed and hurt due to systemic problems in the industry, and things have to change.


MUNZ National Secretary Craig Harrison says the string of deaths and serious accidents at Ports of Auckland over the last few years was a glaring example of the problem, which had recently been exposed by an independent report.


However, health and safety failures were endemic throughout New Zealand ports, with deaths and serious injuries in several container terminals and bulk stevedoring areas such as logging yards.


“There are a number of causes, including a profit driven culture not a health and safety culture, but a big problem is employers refusing to see Unions as the legitimate representatives of workers.”


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says many employers are simply paying fines but not changing their practices in meaningful ways.


He says the lesson of Pike River was that health and safety had to come first, but ongoing health and safety failures in ports were indicating the lesson had not been learned.


“Port workers work long hours in tough conditions. Their labour keeps food on our table and delivers the necessities of life to all New Zealanders. In return, they are simply asking to come home safely at the end of their shift to their loved ones.”


Both unions are in favour of stronger laws and enforcement of current laws by regulators, and say corporate manslaughter laws need to be on the table.


The two unions are seeking an independent review of health and safety in ports by the Government.




For more information, contact:


Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Craig Harrison on 0274225238


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson on 0274962461


Click here to download this joint media release


Rail workers call to halt trade deal with Myanmar

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

Wednesday 21st April 2021


The union representing New Zealand rail workers has spoken up against the deaths of rail workers under the Myanmar military dictatorship.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says there have been reports of 15 railway workers, mostly union members, being shot at the railway compound at Myitnge near Mandalay, Myanmar, on 14 April 2021.


“The military dictatorship are waging a vicious war against unarmed civilians and workers, and New Zealand needs to do all it can to bring international pressure on them.”


Mr Butson says the RMTU is backing calls by the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions to halt the ratification of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement that includes Myanmar.


He says the Labour Government must place human rights before trade deals, and act accordingly.


Over 700 civilians have been killed in Myanmar since 1 February when the military overthrew the democratically elected Government.


Myanmar rail workers have been involved in strikes as part of a civil disobedience campaign against the military dictatorship, says Mr Butson.


“The military dictatorship is illegitimate and is responsible for mass killings. The RMTU supports the Myanmar pro-democracy movement which includes our fellow rail workers,” says Mr Butson.


Editorial note: The Rail and Maritime Transport Union is an affiliate of the Labour Party.




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


Click here to download this media release


Rail union says urgent changes required to Te Huia commuter rail service

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

Wednesday 14th April 2021


The union representing rail workers says the new Te Huia commuter rail service between Auckland and Hamilton is a great concept – but needs to tweak its operating model.


Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says Te Huia needs to pick up passengers at intermediate stations in order to build passenger numbers and provide a proper service to the area.


He says new stations must be built at Te Kauwhata, Pokeno and Tuakau right away.


The RMTU is urging the Minister of Transport to intervene and get KiwiRail, local Government and NZTA to work on reconfiguring the service, says Mr Butson.


“This needs to be fixed in a hurry. It would be disastrous if a great, forward thinking concept like Te Huia is undermined by a flawed rollout.”


Mr Butson says journey times will eventually be quicker, but in the meantime Te Huia had to be made available to large numbers of potential users along the route who were currently denied that option.


He says extending the service to run further north of Papakura to Otahuhu would make more sense in reducing travel times and improving connectivity.


Mr Butson says commuter rail is an urgently needed solution to congestion, carbon emissions, and a more effective modern transport system.




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


Click here to download this media release


Rail Union calls for Dunedin Council to 'Do the right thing' and keep Dunedin Railways Rolling

Rail and Maritime Transport Union media release

Sunday 11th April 2021


The union representing rail workers is calling upon Dunedin City Council to do the right thing at its meeting on Tuesday 13 April when it decides on the future of Dunedin Railways.

Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) General Secretary Wayne Butson says the RMTU led the recent Keep Dunedin Rail Rolling campaign, with the support of Unions Otago and a large number of people in the community.

“Our union backed the successful Trains not Planes initiative in running excursion trains over the summer which has gained the support of local businesses and proved a real winner with the public.”

He says Dunedin City Council have a number of options before them on Tuesday, and the RMTU are calling on them to choose the boldest option and retain the rail service both on the national network and through the iconic Taieri Gorge.

Mr Butson says this option will require investment but the economic benefit to the city will amply reward this.

“The Trains not Planes excursion services have proved an outstanding success with many sold out. Two thirds of tickets sold were to passengers from Dunedin. With our borders opening up as the threat of the global pandemic recedes, the potential demand from overseas tourists will only increase.”

Dunedin Railways has the potential to return to its status as a major attraction that will bring much needed money into the city, he says.

Mr Butson says he understands a commercial operator has expressed interest in operating a tourism rail service out of Dunedin and the RMTU was confident its members could work with any potential investor to make the venture a success.


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


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


ITF- Affiliated to the International Transport Workers Federation which comprises 653 unions representing 4,500,000 transport workers in 148 countries
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