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QRN Restructure on Hold - Union disputes secure status quo

26 July 2012

Last week QRN released their “final decisions” in respect of their restructure of their business. Whilst significant alterations to their original proposals were contained in, their “final decisions” as a result of the quality of response from delegates and members to QRN directly as well as the State level union consultative discussions and submissions, there is clearly some fundamental problems and anomalies in QRN’s proposed outcomes.

Quite frankly, it is clear that the final decisions would not only be negative towards members but also the long term operation of the business.

The RTBU considers that a substantial part of the current agenda of QRN is unacceptable and therefore the RTBU has lodged numerous disputes in an effort to bring sense back to the equation.

The disputes notified by the RTBU fell into a number of categories. We disputed those proposals, which were just a rubbery plan to investigate how to contract out elements of the work. In those cases we have had early successes and for Telecommunication Technician’s work and Substation Electricians QRN have had to go back to see if there are any changes required. If there are, they have to draw up a thought out proposal, which is demonstrable and able to be implemented.

For some members in the Train Crew grade this has meant QRN has had to actually work with their staff and the result has been a reduction in the planned redundancies and a depot slated for closure now is likely to remain open.

There were also disputes about proposals that infrastructure workers should have to reapply for their own jobs (spill and fill) on the basis that there was some minor changes proposed to the roles. I am pleased to say that the Union has successfully removed this unjust burden on these members who will no longer have to reapply for their positions.

Another issue related to those employees receiving an electrical licensing allowance as to whether or not this will be included in the calculation of their redundancy should they choose to submit an application. This matter is still being pursued by the Unions.

Job security issues in respect of members in the Administrative Division have also been subject to discussions. There are concerns amongst our members about the issue of reapplying for the jobs (another spill and fill situation). There have been discussions in the dispute negotiations on this matter but it remains unresolved with a number of issues still to be addressed. However, one positive aspect was that during the negotiations, QRN conceded that in situations where a new position created contained approximately two thirds of the employee’s previous duties, then the employee would not have to reapply for the new position. This matter is still subject to discussions at today and tomorrow’s meetings.

The most significant issue of dispute out of other matters relates to the selection methodology for redundancy and ‘Employee’s in Transition’. This is an area where QRN has entered the sewers of Industrial Relations displaying contempt for their workforce.

QRN has made a determination that they will unilaterally determine which employees will be removed from the workplace, regardless of whether or not they applied for voluntary redundancy. This is certainly an unacceptable situation for the RTBU. The example used by QRN to explain how this would work in consultation with Unions is as follows:

A workplace has 20 employees but after the restructure it will be reduced to 15 therefore five positions are to go
All employees in the workplace are on the same roster and the same classified position
Five employees in the workplace apply for voluntary redundancy
However, QRN may only select three of the five to be provided with an offer of voluntary redundancy
QRN will then determine the additional two employees from the 17 remaining employees to be removed from the workplace
Two employees who may not have any desire to leave their current position will declared to be ‘Employee’s in Transit’

The outcome is that two employees wishing to stay in the job have been removed and two employees prepared to leave the job remain.

What makes this worse is the fact that the selection methodology being utilised by QRN to determine which employees are provided with voluntary redundancy and which employees are classified ‘Employee’s in Transition’ is subjective and open to manipulation.

In other words, QRN’s proposal for selection is that even if you don’t put your hand up for voluntary redundancy you will be measured up in a selection process and could be made surplus while the people who volunteered for redundancy will be knocked back. If you think this sounds like they might want to weed out the people they don’t like, then you’re in good company. It’s unacceptable and we will fight it.

The RTBU is scheduled to continue discussions over these matters today and tomorrow. If they can’t be resolved we are listed to appear before Fair Work Australia next week in an attempt to gain some justice for members.

I will ensure that members are kept up to date with what is happening in respect of this matter with a further circular early next week unless there are any significant developments beforehand.

Owen Doogan
Branch Secretary