Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
 
 
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Aurizon Update: recent developments

Members are understandably concerned about recent developments in Aurizon. This circular aims to put you in the picture of why Aurizon is operating in the way that it is, and how we can move forward.

Why are you being asked to vote? How did the undertakings become dependent on a vote?

The simple answer is that Aurizon simply didnít think through the effect of its action in the Fair Work Commission to cancel the current agreements. It seems the Human Resource and Legal teams just didnít talk with operational managers.

Itís certainly true that when they presented their so called ĎUndertakingsí there was never a mention that it was further dependent upon a vote of the workforce over roster arrangements.

Itís a mess of Aurizonís making but itís now time for us to step up and show some leadership on how itís going to be resolved.

What have we been doing?

For the last 48 hours we have been trying to gain some commitments from Aurizon about protecting your remuneration if they were going to ask people to participate in the vote.

Letís be clear Ė the vote is for certain sections of the workforce (Traincrew, Freight Operators, and AER Operational employees) who work rosters which would be impacted by the Award.

We have now received a response from Aurizon Ė they did not provide all the guarantees we sought but have said they will continue to apply the following over and above the undertakings.

Traincrew EA: Meal (Trip) Allowance, Laying off in Foreign Quarters
AER EA
Team Leader Ops Roster Aggregate
Saturday & Sunday (Weekend) Payment
Held Away from Home Payment
Rostered Rest Away from Home Allowances
Temporary Transfers
Private Use of Motor Vehicles.
No change to payments over and above the award and undertakings, such as Parental Leave, Locality Allowance and Camp Allowance.
No intention to roster DOO shifts for Traincrew beyond the current 9hrs.

Current State of Play

The current agreements will remain in force until the 21 May at this stage. The Fair Work decision listed the 18 May as the end date, but with some negotiation we have pushed that out until the date of the hearing of the appeal and we will continue to push for it to be held until the decision is reached.

Holding back on voting has made a difference but Aurizon could have done better. In the circumstances there is no longer a reason to ask members to refrain from voting at this stage, and given the threat Aurizon is seeking to unfairly wield over members.

Agreement Negotiations

The RTBU and other rail unions have been bargaining over core issues for some days now with encouraging results. All parties have reported that they are pleased by progress.

Letís not forget, the real answer to resolving this whole mess is to get an agreement. An agreement means the Fair Work Decision and Appeal are no longer relevant to members. That has to be our focus.

The AFULE issued a notice for industrial action a few days ago, with stoppages due to occur from Saturday.

Unfortunately Aurizon decided to halt bargaining until the action was complete or withdrawn/suspended. On that basis we are not due to resume bargaining until next week.

RTBU members will recall that we had suspended our action on the basis progress was being made and on the basis we saw genuine movement determined that we were better at the negotiating table. This is a judgement which is reviewed daily depending on Aurizon continuing to be prepared to negotiate in good faith.

Appeal

The Appeal to the outrageous decision of the Fair Work Commission to cancel our agreements is now underway with dates now set. The Federal Court will hear the matter on the 21 May in recognition of the urgency of the case. It is expected a decision would come shortly after.

So far, the Union side has put its written arguments forward to the court and we await Aurizonís written response on Monday, next week.

We will keep members across all developments in this case.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
RTBU State Secretary,
Queensland Branch