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In-cab surveillance proposal generates debate

Proponents say in-cab surveillance will contribute to better safety, but the RTBU fears it will be used as a stalking horse for the introduction of a Big Brother-style surveillance system.

A PROPOSAL from the Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator to mandate the use of in-cab and visual recording devices in Australian trains has generated opposition from the Rail, Tram and Bus Union.

The proposal is being presented to a meeting of federal, state and territory transport ministers this week.

In a document seen by Rail Express, the ONRSR talked of options including voluntary or mandated in-cab audio and video safety recordings in passenger trains and freight locomotives with a view to improving safety and having better information available for researchers.

RTBU national secretary Mark Diamond said the union was concerned about the impacts of constant video surveillance on workers’ mental health.

“To put it simply, the regulator’s proposal is draconian and dangerous,” Diamond said.

“It has been put forward under the guise of ‘safety’, but we are concerned that it will actually make the industry less safe.

“The psychological impacts of constant audio and visual surveillance will likely lead to increased fatigue and anxiety for train drivers.

“Train cabins are workplaces, but they also serve as mobile meal rooms, change and spaces for private conversations.”

Diamond said the RTBU’s position opposed in-cab recording devices, but was prepared to accept them under strict conditions.

“If the purpose of mandatory recording devices is to assist investigations into safety incidents, then that is all those recordings should be used for,” he said.

“We have been concerned, however, that ‘safety’ has been used as a stalking horse for the introduction of a Big Brother-style surveillance system to monitor and discipline workers.”

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