Transport Minister Rachel Nolan with Group GM of QR’s Rollingstock and Component Services Businesses Tony Gassman at the QR Workshops at Redbank.
Transport Minister Rachel Nolan with Group GM of QR’s Rollingstock and Component Services Businesses Tony Gassman at the QR Workshops at Redbank. Sarah Harvey

Anger as jobs go from workshops

QR NATIONAL will make cuts to its work force through voluntary redundancies, offering packages to about one-third of its workforce.

The company – which has a 700- plus workforce at its Redbank workshops – announced the plan yesterday, three months after becoming privatised with promises that jobs will be safe.

Ipswich MP, Transport Minister Rachel Nolan said the measure did not mean rail jobs would be lost from Ipswich.

The Rail Tram and Bus Union said it would closely monitor negotiations with staff, while the Opposition has blasted the development, claiming the State Government had abandoned Ipswich rail workers.

QR National said in a statement that under the proposed scheme, no staff member will be asked to consider the package unless they asked for one.

“We have proposed a VR scheme at this time for operational reasons and to help ensure the size of sections of our workforce are relative to our competitors and industry benchmarking,” they said.

Ms Nolan said Ipswich will, in total, have more rail workers than it did before privatisation because of a Government decision to move the still state-owned Queensland Rail headquarters to the city.

“Right now, QR National workers have a three-year rock-solid job guarantee,” she said.

“This is a strong Queensland company with room for growth.”

RTBU state secretary Owen Doogan said the union was surprised the move had been made so soon after privatisation and that a fair work load be left for those who do not take up the offer.

Shadow Transport Minister Fiona Simpson slammed the move, and said QR workers had been betrayed by Rachel Nolan.

“Not only has Minister Nolan let down her former staff. As Member for Ipswich, where rail is a major employer, she has also betrayed her own constituents,” Ms Simpson said.

QR National said it would consult with staff until late February and begin the voluntary redundancies in March.

In October, QR National chairman John Prescott described speculation of job cuts as “misplaced”.

“Our efficiency drive is not coming out of head cuts – it is coming out of making the business better, carrying more tonnes on trains,” he said.

The company said it was “nonsense” to suggest all 3500 applicable workers would take up the package or that QR National would accept that many redundancies.



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