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Aurizon’s lock out of workers is avoidable, unnecessary and reckless

Feb 25, 2014News

Aurizon’s decision to lock freight drivers out at the end of this week destroys any shred of credibility management may have had in the negotiating process said the Rail Tram and Bus Union today.

Aurizon, Australia’s largest rail freight handler, has refused to move in negotiations with its workforce since May last year, despite celebrating a $263 million net profit and revenue of almost $2 billion, and have now announced a 36-hour lockout of workers.

RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva said it was disappointing Aurizon had decided to continue its attack on the workforce rather than give their workers a fair go.

“All week Aurizon has been condemning the approved protected industrial action drivers have been forced to take, calling it a significant and costly disruption. And yet they have chosen to extend it themselves,” Mr Nanva said.

“Any claim Aurizon has ever made about caring for the national economy has been completely shredded.

“From the outset, this company has refused to negotiate and has deliberately stoked this conflict.

“Aurizon customers and shareholders ought to begin banging down the door of its management and demanding to know why the company will not negotiate.”

Hunter coal freight drivers employed by Aurizon and their families will today assemble at their Newcastle depot as part of their push to have management recognise key issues at their workplaces.

RTBU NSW Freight Organiser Steve Wright said workers wanted certainty and consistency.

“Industrial action of this kind is always a last resort for workers but management has dug in its heels and left workers with little option,” Mr Wright said.

“Drivers see CEO Lance Hockridge on a $6 million salary and senior managers on a million a piece and are asking to be treated with some respect as they try to bargain in good faith for a new agreement.

“Workers are calling for better rostering so they have greater certainty about upcoming shifts to plan time with their families. They want a working week in line with most other workers – 38 hours – and the same long service conditions offered to their colleagues in Queensland.

“It’s time Aurizon executives on million-plus packages gave up their ideological crusade against their train drivers with reasonable demands.”

The current industrial action was endorsed by ninety four percent of the workforce at an AEC-supervised ballot and in accordance with the Fair Work Act.