Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
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Queensland Rail Transit Authority Bill 2013

23 April 2013

The Rail, Tram and Bus Industry Union have been representing workers across all grades in Queensland Rail (QR) for well over a century. We have seen industry changes and debated them at times in a robust manner.

The changes proposed in the Bill are designed to appear benign and spun to be in fact of some benefit to QR workers and the public.

The purpose of the Bill is clearly to stack the deck in favour of the Newman Government ahead of bargaining with its workforce. It has been introduced with no forewarning to its employees or the public.

The fact that the Bill is being rushed through the Parliament and its committee process with only a few days to allow comment is far from appropriate.

The purpose of the Bill according to the material supplied is to provide an organisational platform for further reform. The reforms are supposedly to allow for greater frequency of service with greater on time running. What is ignored is that these have been increasing steadily under the current system with cost savings being generated through efficiency. The very premise of the proposed change appears to be flawed given that it can be demonstrably achieved with no restructuring required.

Your Union is concerned that this is part of a plan to implement the agenda outlined by the Commission of Audit led by former Liberal Federal Treasurer Peter Costello.

It would appear the platform being created is that of a franchising model (Contracting Out) such as that devised by the Kennett Government.

The RTBU opposes the movement out of the Federal IR system and therefore opposes this restructure as it is clearly designed to further break up an iconic Queensland brand and organisation.

The RTBU is concerned that the return to the inferior conditions currently pertaining in the State system appears similar to another Liberal/National Government forcing the same workers out of the State system to an inferior Federal system under WorkChoices.

This move is simply designed to remove security and bargained for conditions from our members using the cowardly approach of legislating on high rather than rolling up the sleeves and trying to negotiate change.

Movement to the Qld IR system will have the effect of arbitrarily removing conditions our members have through good faith negotiations. Our members fairly and reasonably bargained for the conditions they work under. Simply removing conditions such as those which relate to contracting out, job security, and rights to consultation fundamentally contradicts the statement that conditions of employment will be preserved by this legislation.

The legislation provides a vastly different set of rules when it comes to bargaining from those which exist at a federal level.

Negotiations which occur under Queensland law contain bias against working people handing unfair advantage to employers.

Queensland Rail is an iconic brand and its workers are the backbone of many communities across the State. This unannounced plan will likely come to pass given the lack of debate allowed by the current Government. However it will not prevent QR workers from fully comprehending that this is no more than an ideological act aimed at attempting to reduce their rights and conditions within their work environment.

The RTBU has arranged to meet the Minister of Transport this week over these concerns which are part of our submission to the Queensland Parliamentary Transport, Housing and Local Government Committee which is available on the RTBU website.

A report on the outcome of this meeting will be supplied to Members.

Until such time as the legal ramifications are clear the RTBU will continue to work through the issues and report the final outcomes and effects on members.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
State Secretary
Queensland Branch