Aurizon employee strike another hit to North Queensland, says company

Aurizon employee strike another hit to North Queensland, says company


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Aurizon's Bulk business will walk off the job for two days from midday Tuesday May 28. Photo supplied.

Aurizon's Bulk business will walk off the job for two days from midday Tuesday May 28. Photo supplied.

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Aurizon employees will walk off the job for 48 hours next week.

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Aurizon employees will walk off the job for 48 hours next week as pay talks between the company and unions have hit a road block.

Two unions, the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees and the Rail Tram and Bus Union have told Aurizon their members will take protected industrial action.

Train crew and freight operators at Queensland depots operated by Aurizon's Bulk business will walk off the job for two days from midday Tuesday, May 28.

This stoppage is the second industrial action announced this year, and will affect Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Hughenden, Townsville, Mackay, Longreach, Emerald, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Maryborough and Acacia Ridge (Brisbane).

It follows week-long overtime bans imposed by the unions unimpressed by ongoing Bulk Enterprise Agreement negotiations.

An Aurizon spokesperson said the industrial action was unnecessary.

"Bargaining meetings between Aurizon and unions are continuing, and Aurizon remains committed to achieving a fair and reasonable agreement for employees," the spokesperson said.

"The strike action is particularly disappointing when unions know it would impact customers and communities who are getting back on their feet after the devastating flooding in North Queensland.

"Train services to Mount Isa recommenced only a few weeks ago after a three-month track closure caused by flooding and now unions are stopping the trains again through their industrial action."

The Mount Isa to Townsville rail line only reopened in late April. Photo supplied.

The Mount Isa to Townsville rail line only reopened in late April. Photo supplied.

Aurizon said their Bulk business was working closely with haulage customers to minimise disruptions should the industrial action proceed.

"We urge unions to withdraw their industrial action and get back to bargaining in good faith and with a commitment to reach a new agreement that is fair and reasonable for all parties," the company said.

However Rail, Tram and Bus Union Northern District Organiser Les Moffitt said if Aurizon wanted to avoid protected industrial action, it was time for them to put an acceptable offer on the table.

"The Enterprise Agreement negotiations with the Aurizon Bulk business is progressing very slowly with little signs of an agreement in principle being reached in the near future," Mr Moffitt said.

"Negotiations commenced with the company in September last year and workers have not had a pay increase since September 2017 and are fed up with the delaying tactics displayed by the company so far during the negotiation process."

Mr Moffitt said his members had an overtime ban from May 15 to 28 but now had no option but to walk off the job.

"Rail Unions have previously made it clear what is required to see a de-escalation of action so the ball is in Aurizon's court if they are serious about negotiating a fair deal," he said.

Since September 2018, Aurizon employees have voted for four new Enterprise Agreements covering Queensland Staff; Western Australian Operations; New South Wales Coal Operations; and Queensland Infrastructure.

The North West Star

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