AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Aurizon schedules vote after struggling with unions

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Queensland-based rail freight operator Aurizon will next month put to the vote, three proposed Enterprise Agreements (EAs) for its Queensland-based employees. </span> <p>Aurizon says the proposed agreements offer a 4% per annum wage increase over three years, “in return for a range of productivity and efficiency measures.”<br /><br />The ballots will be conducted from October 7 to 13, and will cover approximately 5000 employees. <br /><br />The three proposed agreements are: Staff Enterprise Agreement 2014, Train Crew and Transport Operations Enterprise Agreement 2014, and, Construction and Maintenance Enterprise Agreement 2014.<br /><br />Aurizon is overhauling the EAs, it says because current agreements inhibit its competitiveness “in the current challenging economic climate and contain clauses that are no longer sustainable for a listed company.”<br /><br />Three core factors of the current EAs are key to Aurizon’s desire to overhaul the agreements. Those three are no forced redundancies, more than 900 various pay classification points “which Aurizon aims to significantly reduce”, and “ineffective and inefficient rostering arrangements and outdated work practices,” the haulier says.<br /><br />Aurizon says it’s made a number of significant changes to the agreements in response to recent employee feedback and protracted enterprise bargaining over almost 18 months with rail unions.<br /><br />“Unions have refused to agree to the proposed terms of the agreements,” the company says, however.<br /><br />“The bargaining progress has been slow and the unions have consistently made it clear that they will not agree to some of the terms that Aurizon is proposing on key conditions,” John Stephens, Aurizon’s executive vice president of human resources said.<br /><br />“They do not want to be seen to advocate change to work practices and conditions of employment. This is disappointing when these unions have recently agreed to similar conditions with Aurizon’s competitors.” <br /><br />Aurizon made an application to the Fair Work Commission to terminate the 14 existing Queensland-based EAs in May. The application will be heard by the Commission from November 5.<br /><br />In the meantime, Aurizon has continued a series of workplace briefings and received ongoing feedback from employees, it says.<br /><br />“Aurizon released the latest draft proposals in August and many employees have also told management that they want a pay increase and would like to have their say with their vote,” Stephens said. <br /><br />“Aurizon has a responsibility to give the employees who will be covered by these EAs the opportunity to accept or reject Aurizon’s proposals by putting the three agreements to vote.<br /><br />“By taking the agreements to vote, we hope that employees will vote in favour of what we see as fair and equitable agreements that give a generous wage increase in today’s challenging economic environment, in return for the efficiencies our competitors enjoy.”</p>