Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
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Member Update

ARTC Investigation

I refer members to the RTBU Circular dated 25 February 2014 in which I advised that the Queensland Government had announced their intention for an investigation into the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) taking over control of the Queensland regional rail network.

I have subsequently received a briefing from the Queensland Rail Chief Executive, undertook lengthy discussions with representatives from the Transport Ministers Office and met with ARTC Chief Executive and their HR Manager.

The Government has indicated that they are keen for this new approach but only if they ARTC are prepared to meet the requirements of the Government and that no final agreement has been entered into. Both the ARTC and the Queensland Government are awaiting the outcome of the investigation before moving to the next stage with this proposal.

Queensland Rail has indicated that they will keep the Unions up to date with developments as they occur.

The ARTC presented the arguments for why they believe it is in the interests of the Industry and job security into the future for them to take over the operation of the regional network and why this would depend on a number of variables which will emerge from the investigation into the appropriateness of them taking on this role.

Currently there is not a great deal of detail in respect of the Queensland Government / ARTC investigation into what would be a significant change in Queensland. There is a certain vagueness in relation to the discussions that have occurred between ARTC and QR which is not unusual in such circumstances.

It does appear from the discussions that the RTBU has had with the three parties involved that the final decision on this matter has not been made and that a genuine investigation is underway. The ARTC has set a team up in the QR headquarters in Brisbane to conduct this investigation.

The RTBU will continue to monitor all developments in respect of this matter and has made it clear to all parties involved that the principal issue for this Union is any potential impact on our members currently employed in QR. The RTBU has also advised ARTC and others that our preference is most definitely for QR to continue operating the Network.

I will assure that members are advised of all developments for their information encountered during this process.

Queensland Rail Enterprise Agreements

With the exception of the Traincrew Agreement which was completed last year, all QR Enterprise Agreements expire in April 2014. Under normal circumstances negotiations would have commenced some time ago in order to attempt to have an Agreement in place when the previous Agreements expire.

Members should note that all conditions in your current Agreement, apart from those which have already been removed by Government legislation last year, will remain in place unless another Agreement is reached.

Unfortunately, the Queensland Government passed legislation which prevents negotiations occurring on your Agreement until the award is reviewed. This legislation was passed by the Queensland Government late last year. Many members have been asking why they have heard nothing about their Agreement and this is simply a fact that as a result of the Queensland Government’s legislation nothing has occurred in respect of a replacement Agreement.

It appears that the Queensland Rail Agreements may be able to be opened up for negotiations in the near future as the process surrounding the review of the award appears to be close to completion.
It is highly unusual, and in the view of the RTBU far from appropriate, for a Government to interfere to the extent this Government has in the negotiations between the employer and the unions but this has been a trait of the Newman Government.

It is hoped that progress will be made in the next couple of weeks and the RTBU will be distributing a survey on the Agreement in the very near future.

Government's withdrawal of payroll deduction option from 30/6/14

As members are no doubt aware, from 30 June 2014 the option for members to pay their Union subscriptions by payroll deduction (PRD) will become illegal. Queensland Rail will be subject to fines if they continue with this process after that date.

Whilst most QR members have now transferred over to direct debit or direct credit there are still a few hundred who are paying by PRD and /or have not completed the paper work for the payment of Union subscriptions to be transferred to another method of payment once PRD has been withdrawn.

I would encourage those members who have not yet transferred over to an alternative payment method to contact the Union office. The Union now has the facility to take direct debit and direct credit transfers over the phone and members also have the option to refrain from the activation of the direct debit or direct credit until PRD stops at the end of June 2014. Currently it is not the practice of the RTBU to activate direct debit or direct credit payments until the PRD stops. However, if any double payments did occur, immediate refunds will be provided to members.

The phone number to transfer to direct debit or direct credit is 07 3839 4988.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
State Secretary
Queensland Branch