Rail union organiser Bruce Mackie.
Rail union organiser Bruce Mackie. Campbell Gellie

Aurizon trains grind to a halt in face of strike

A BREAKDOWN in negotiations between Aurizon Coal and the Rail Tram and Bus Union will see more than 400 workers around the Greater Mackay region walk off the job to demand change.

The strike will see train crew, operations and maintenance staff strike for 24 hour hours from midday today followed by a seven-day ban on overtime.

President of the RTBU Bruce Mackie is based in Mackay. He said workers were demanding job security, improvements to conditions, more predictable rosters and wage increases.

A deal proposed by Aurizon late on Wednesday was "overwhelmingly" rejected by members across the state.

Allegedly this deal attempted to buy back employees' right to strike for a few hundred dollars.

"Guys are looking for a pay rise that keeps up with the cost of living," Mr Mackie said.

One point of contention for workers is the "unpredictable" rostering.

Mr Mackie said train drivers had a three-hour window in which they would start their shifts. "The rostering patterns need to be improved so there is better predictability," he said.

Mr Mackie said workers expected and deserved a fair deal which provided job security measures, improvements to their conditions which would include more predictable rosters and a "decent" wage increase.

He claimed the mining company cancelled all further bargaining meetings in response to the upcoming strike.

"If Aurizon were fair dinkum they'd start addressing the real issues," he said.

"If train drivers stop, trains stop." 

A spokesperson from Aurizon said the company received notice from the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees (AFULE), the Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) and the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) of protected industrial action for their Queensland members.

"Aurizon has been bargaining in good faith on a new Enterprise Agreement for the Coal business and believes solid and constructive progress was being made," they said. 

The spokesperson said Aurizon is urging the unions to withdraw their proposed industrial action.  

"It is extremely disappointing that unions have elected to take this unnecessary and premature step, rather than continue to discuss proposals constructively for a new Enterprise Agreement."

"Aurizon has confirmed with unions that it will resume negotiations, but only if an undertaking is given to cease protected industrial action while those talks take place.

If the Union planned industrial action happens, no Aurizon coal haulage services would operate on the:

• Blackwater and Moura corridors from midday Friday 14 December for 24 hours

• Goonyella and Newlands corridor from midday Saturday 15 December for 24 hours

• West Moreton (into Brisbane) corridor from midday Monday 17 December for 24 hours