THE Fair Work Commission has ruled to suspend Sydney rail workers' planned 24-hour strike on Monday, saying it would cause "significant damage" to the economy and "endanger" the community.
Industrial action that threatened to wipe out the city's transport system next week has been suspended for six weeks, and the government and union have been urged to negotiate the pay dispute behind the proposed strike.
The FWC's senior deputy president Jonathan Hamberger's decision means workers will not be allowed to strike during the six-week period, over which time he said he expected the Rail Tram and Bus Union and Sydney Trains to reach an agreement over pay and conditions.
An indefinite overtime ban, which came into effect at 12.01am today, was also suspended.
In his decision, Mr Hamberger said the action was "threatening to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it".
"I am satisfied, based on the evidence, that this industrial action taken together - or indeed separately - threatens to endanger the welfare of a part of the population," Mr Hamberger said.
The FWC also decided the current and threatened industrial action would affect people in Sydney and the surrounding areas who relied on the services to get to work school, and other activities, as well as those "who will suffer from the increased congestion on the roads that would be an inevitable consequence".
The order comes into effect at 6pm tonight.
More than 9000 rail workers had planned to stop work from midnight Monday over a dispute with management about pay and conditions, which would have forced the closure of all train stations and cancellation of all services in Sydney and across NSW.
Monday marks the start of the new term for private schools in Sydney and public school teachers, while many will return to work after holidays.
The decision against the strike is a win for the government, which claimed the planned strike could cost the economy up to $90 million and threatened to endanger people's lives, safety, health or welfare.
Legal action to brought by Industrial relations minister Dominic Perrottet and Sydney Trains
followed a poll by the RTBU, which asked its members via text message whether management's latest pay package was good enough to stop industrial action.
Less than six per cent responded in favour of accepting the deal.
Appearing before the FWC earlier on Thursday, the lawyer representing Sydney Trains, Michael Seck, said the strike was intended to cause "maximum damage".
"It's been timed optimally to cause maximum damage and maximum inconvenience to the patrons who use the rail network," Mr Seck told the Commission.
Mr Seck argued that some people who provide essential services - including police, paramedics and firefighters - won't be able to get to work, compromising the public's health and welfare.
The Commission was also told that some elective surgery would have to be cancelled and the Sydney Dental Hospital would only be able to deal with emergency appointments.
The RTBU, through its lawyer Anthony Howell, said suspending the industrial action would do "very little" to assist in resolving outstanding issues. Monday's strike was "one-day alone" and was a "reasonable and measured form of stoppage", he said.
He also labelled "minuscule" the estimated $90 million dent to the state's economy, given it was worth at least $600 billion.
Workers have been offered a 2.75 per cent a year pay rise as part of a package including free bus travel and a one-off $1000 payment.
The union has been seeking a six per cent pay increase and improved conditions.
- With AAP