Aurizon has applied to terminate existing workplace agreements.
Aurizon has applied to terminate existing workplace agreements. George Smith

Biggest rail employer in QLD moves to cut more staff

THE biggest employer of railway workers in regional Queensland has moved to end its employee agreements in an effort to cut more than 400 staff.

Aurizon has announced it had applied to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the 14 existing workplace agreements governing its staff.

But it said despite more than a year in talks with unions and 70 days of bargaining, "meaningful progress" was not achieved.

The breakdown in the talks comes as Aurizon moves to cut 480 staff across regional freight rail networks in Queensland, with plans mooted to centralise operations in Rockhampton.

A statement from the company said while some "in-principle agreements" had been reached on some parts of the negotiation, talks broke down over rostering and hours of work issues.

It is understood many of the issues are related to the legacy of employment agreements reached with the state government as rail operator before the rail network was privatised.

The company further noted the talks fell over despite the rail company offering a 4% wage increase each year for the next three years.

"In effect, this means there have been no significant productivity or efficiency changes in the Queensland enterprise agreements in six years, since the previous agreements were negotiated in 2008, while employees have received wage increases of at least 4% per year over the life of those agreements," the statement reads.

It also said other "challenging" clauses holding back the company's plans were rules allowing "no forced redundancies and no forced relocations" and "complex allowances and above base wages".

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