NSW train driver action is avoidable unnecessary and reckless
Aurizon is extremely disappointed that the Rail Tram & Bus Union has decided to take industrial action in our NSW coal operations when there is a generous deal on the table for our employees.
Aurizon has been provided by the union with notices of protected industrial action:
An overtime ban for 72 hours commencing at 12 midday on Friday, 21 February
A 48 hour strike commencing at 12 midday on Tuesday, 25 February
Aurizon has been bargaining in good faith since May last year and has put forward a very fair and reasonable offer.
Industrial action is avoidable, unnecessary and just plain reckless in the current economic environment.
This action will cause significant disruption and cost to our customers and the broader coal industry in NSW, as well as hurting the local economy in the Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.
A 48 hour strike effectively becomes 72 hours of lost production because it takes about 12 hours to close down operations and 12 hours to re-start our business.
This irresponsible strike action comes at a time when local coal producers are needing every tonne of coal shipped. It’s abundantly clear that the coal sector has been shedding jobs and the Australian economy faces unprecedented restructuring.
We need flexible, modern and competitive work practices that reward employees fairly. We do not need over the top wage claims that are out of touch with the current economic environment.
Aurizon advised unions and employees on 14 February that if they proceeded with industrial action then Aurizon would withdraw the $2000 payment that is currently on the table for finalisation of the agreement.
Employees will be now be forfeiting the $2000 and Aurizon will not be increasing its offer. Strike action changes nothing.
The rail union seems intent on refusing a good deal and causing industrial chaos in our operations and for the business of our customers. This will hurt the Hunter Valley economy.
The union’s counter-proposal includes a 25% wage increase and a range of restrictive work practices.
Aurizon simply cannot accept that type of impost in this economic environment.
Aurizon has been communicating with customers and working on contingency plans and response options.
The Aurizon proposal included:
a reduction in working hours for train drivers
increases in long service leave
a 12% wage increase over three years
a $2000 one-off cash payment upon approval of the agreement.
The Interail Australia (Coal Operations – NSW) Agreement 2010 covers approximately 200employees in New South Wales at the depots in Newcastle and Duralie.
Total annual remuneration for a Level 4 train driver under the proposed agreement would rise to $121,000 in July 2016.
Since commencing bargaining in May 2013, some 23 days of meetings have been held between Aurizon management and RTBU representatives.
Since commencing coal operations in the Hunter Valley in 2005, Aurizon has also invested $385 million in new generation locomotives and wagons to serve its customers.
Aurizon has recently announced commencement of a $150 million investment in a new train support facility at Hexham to support its continued growth in the Hunter Valley.
In 2012/3, Aurizon hauled 37.9 million tonnes of coal in the Hunter Valley, representing a marketshare of more than 25%.