NSW’s Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has initiated legal action to terminate Qube's lockout of 200 workers. 

The dispute, centred around a $32 million underpayment case, has escalated to the point where the union claims the logistics giant is jeopardising the safety of thousands of commuters.

The RTBU last week filed an application with the Fair Work Commission, seeking an immediate end to the 10-day lockout imposed by Qube.

The union alleges that the company is neglecting essential rail safety protocols and permitting unqualified workers to operate trains. 

This move is unprecedented, as it employs legal triggers typically used by employers or third parties to put an end to union strikes that threaten the economy or public welfare.

The conflict arose after Qube locked out 180 train drivers in New South Wales on July 20 in response to partial work bans initiated by the union. 

This action followed the collapse of an earlier in-principle agreement when the union unexpectedly filed a court claim alleging staff underpayment totaling $30,000 per year over five years.

The RTBU NSW locomotive division says it had no choice but to take this course of action to address the significant safety risks posed by the situation.

Qube has denied any wrongdoing and accused the union of using the dispute to leverage pay raises of 8 per cent per year. 

The dispute stems from an in-principle agreement reached in June, which included pay raises of 6 per cent, 5 per cent, and 5 per cent over three years. 

However, the agreement was put on hold after the union filed a Federal Court claim asserting that Qube failed to pay penalty rates and allowances since 2017, with the union's claim totaling $32 million.

The termination application submitted by the RTBU highlights Qube's alleged operation on Sydney Trains' network without approval from the appropriate rail infrastructure manager, potentially stranding passenger trains on the mainline. 

Moreover, the company is accused of directing logistics employees without adequate safety qualifications to move trains, raising concerns about the risk of rail accidents.

A Qube spokesperson has strongly refuted the claims, dismissing them as lacking substance and based, in part, on a disputed email. 

A hearing is scheduled for this week.