Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
 
 
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Aurizon attack on work conditions following appeal hearing

Yesterday a joint RTBU and other Rail Unions appeal to a full bench of the Federal Court occurred in Melbourne against the appalling decision by the Fairwork Commission to cancel Aurizon Agreements.

Unfortunately there are limitations on the appeal as the Fairwork Commission has very broad jurisdictional powers and this is essentially the basis of which an appeal can be heard. At this point the Federal Court has reserved its decision and I will let members know of the outcome as soon as it is available.

In the meantime Aurizon has yet again shown its contempt for its worker by imposing changes of members’ previous conditions to the more negative conditions contained in the award. The respectable and more logical approach would have been to wait for the outcome of the Appeal to be released.

Whilst Aurizon gave some undertakings to Fair Work for a period of 6 months when presenting its case, there are a number of areas including rostering and job security which have no guarantees and will be detrimental to members.

The reality is that the conditions in the awards is exactly why Unions insist on having agreements in place for their members and the difference between Agreements and the Award reflects the superiority of conditions in Union workplaces compared to non-Union workplaces. The Agreements contained hard fought for conditions and for Fairwork to strip these conditions off workers is an outrage.

The decision of the Full Bench went right against the principles that underpin the legislation and if the appeal is not successful the RTBU, and I would anticipate most Unions within Australia, will be conducting a major campaign to have the legislation amended to remove this fundamental weapon provided to employers.

Currently Unions are in the process of attempting to finalise Aurizon agreements to get the best possible outcome available in the environment we’re in for members.

Progress has been made in respect of a number of the core areas but it will be a package and there are a number of conditions still under attack by the Employer.

However, RTBU Industrial Officers, Organisers and Delegates are continuing to negotiate to try and secure agreements that are worthy of consideration by the members.

Further updates will be forthcoming in the near future.

Unity is Strength

Owen Doogan
RTBU State Secretary,
Queensland Branch