Rail Tram and Bus Union Queensland Branch
 
 
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Long Service Leave Dispute

Members at various Aurizon depots have recently been directed to take of long service leave (LSL) over the next 12 months without consultation.

The RTBU has been clear that Aurizon has the right to direct its employees if there has been no agreement reached about reducing the employees balance through discussions, but the employee is entitled to have the opportunity to have discussions with the company about when suits them before the direction from the company is undertaken if no agreement can be reached.

Today the RTBU attended a conciliation conference in which this matter was discussed.

Although we understand that the preference of some members was to salary sacrifice or cash out their LSL, we are unable to achieve this. LSL cannot be salary sacrificed retrospectively for tax reasons. It can be salary sacrificed legitimately ONLY where it has not yet been accrued. Attempting to salary sacrifice your already accrued LSL is considered tax evasion.

In this particular instance, LSL cannot be cashed out either. Clause 16.13 of your agreement entitles you to make a request for your LSL to be cashed out, it does not provide you a right to have it cashed out. The approval of the request is entirely at Aurizonís discretion.

Aurizon advise us, and I expect that it doesnít come as a surprise to anyone, that coal haulage is significantly reduced in North Queensland at present. This means that Aurizon are over-staffed for the current haulage requirements. Instructing employees to take accrued leave (both annual leave and long service leave) is the preferred option by Aurizon rather than to start a redundancy processes that may impact on their future capacity.

The RTBU is aware of the dissatisfaction that some members have felt in respect of the processes employed by Aurizon and though we havenít been able to secure a cashing out process for LSL accruals, we have been able to hopefully improve the process.

There is now a more flexible process whereby you are able to ask Aurizon to change the dates of your leave to dates that suit your leave requirements better. Aurizon will accommodate this change request where possible.

If you are particularly aggrieved by the dates that you have been directed to take LSL in 2016, you should do the following:

You should ask around the depot to see whether there is anyone who would like to swap leave dates with you. (You will be able to swap between panels if you get agreement from the person concerned.)
You should speak to your delegate about your situation so that they may advise and have discussions with Aurizon on your behalf about the leave you have been directed to take for 2016.

Although it is not yet known what will happen with coal haulage in 2017, Aurizon will have predictions in approximately July of 2016. At which time, Aurizon will work together with employees and local RTBU delegates to ensure that any LSL that is required to be taken in 2016, is more aligned with the wishes of members.

In Solidarity

Owen Doogan
RTBU State Secretary,
Queensland Branch