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News & Views from the RTBU NSW Locomotive Division

BHP makes threat over Aurizon

Feb 21, 2014News

Members at Aurizon’s two Hunter depots will take protected industrial action, following management’s continued refusal to listen to their concerns during EA negotiations.

RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva said Aurizon’s continuing inability to listen to workers had put train drivers in a difficult position of resorting to industrial action to have their voices heard.

BHP-Billiton has since threatened to sue the union over the action, in a similar situation to what occurred during last year’s Pacific National dispute.

Read the Sydney Morning Herald story here.

Business is booming for Aurizon, which recently announced an underlying net profit of $263 million – up 18 per cent on the previous year – and revenue of almost $2 billion. But these results have not translated into giving workers a fair go as they negotiate for a new enterprise agreement.

Bob Nanva said management has refused to budge since May last year, including walking out of a Fair Work conciliation session, and Aurizon has not improved its offer for workers  to receive fair pay and conditions amid the company’s boom times.

Both Bob and NSW Freight Organiser Steve Wright hit the media last night and this morning to make sure the member’s voices were heard.

Check out some of the print coverage so far here:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-21/union-says-proposed-coal-train-driver-strike-unavoidable/5274146

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/policy/train-drivers-intend-to-strike-for-two-days-next-week-after-rejecting-bhps-offer/story-fn59noo3-1226833170669

http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/aurizon-train-drivers-to-strike

Loco Division Secretary Bob Hayden said it is disappointing that management have forced it to this point.

“While management has been refusing to move in negotiations, Aurizon has turned its executive floor into Australia’s new millionaire factory,” Bob said.

“While workers are asking for a modest pay increase in relation to Aurizon’s earnings, management previously approved a 34 per cent pay rise to CEO Lance Hockridge – taking him to $6 million – and $1 million plus salaries for senior executives.

“Management can and should be paying workers a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.

“Drivers don’t want to have to go down this path, but we haven’t been left with any choice.”

Aurizon’s Hunter drivers are calling for:

– Improvements in rostering so drivers and their families have greater certainty about upcoming shifts

– A reduction in hours from 42 to 38 hours per week

– Consistent long-service leave entitlements, so Newcastle drivers can access the same long-service leave offered to drivers in Queensland.

RTBU NSW Freight Organiser Steve Wright said: “Let’s be clear, this dispute is about workers’ rights to collectively bargain. The company is in the best shape it’s ever been but yet has disenfranchised its workforce by refusing to move anywhere in negotiations.

“Aurizon’s position is clearly not an economic argument, it is purely ideological and at odds with Australia’s idea of a fair go.”

RTBU members at Aurizon’s Newcastle and Duralie depots will engage in a ban on over-time this weekend and then if there is no progress from Aurizon management will proceed with two 24-hour work stoppages from noon Tuesday February 25, as endorsed by members at an AEC-supervised ballot and in accordance with the Fair Work Act.

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