Unions slam Aurizon decision to abandon regional Qld workers

Queensland unions have slammed rail operator Aurizon for abandoning regional Queensland workers after its announcement of 300 job losses at facilities throughout central and northern Queensland.

Many permanent jobs will go for good, while others will be converted into casual and contractor positions, risking financial futures for hundreds of regional Queensland families and communities.

Queensland Council of Unions General Secretary Ros McLennan said the privatisation of publicly- owned Queensland Rail into Aurizon in 2010 clearly showed the dangers of privatising public assets.

“The hard work and sweat of Queenslanders built and ran this rail network but now its private operator believes gutting regional communities is just another option to boost their bottom line,” she said.

“Some workers might go onto contracts with labour hire outfits, but this brings with it more insecurity and uncertainty about their working future,” she said.

“Recently published financial results show Aurizon predicted underlying earnings before interest and tax of between $900 and $950 million for the full year,” Ms McLennan said.

“The CEO rakes in $1.7 million a year in salary, and is eligible for up to $6 million in bonuses,” she said, “but now more than 300 families in regional Queensland face the unemployment queue.”

Maintenance workshops in Rockhampton will be closed and redeveloped by the end of next year, affecting 181 workers, including electricians and fitters and turners.

A further 126 train crew positions would be phased out in central Queensland, to be replaced by 70 contractors.

In Mackay and Townsville, 62 jobs would go where haulage contracts had been finalised.

“That’s the outcome of privatisation – a few make a lot, and many, many more lose out. We’ve fought the privatisation agendas of governments from both sides, and this shows why – it puts profits before people,” said Ms McLennan.