ARTC hiring women in Hunter. Photo: Youtube / ARTC

ARTC to recruit ‘women only’ in Hunter

The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW will allow the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) to specifically hire women for track maintenance roles across the Hunter Valley.

ARTC boss John Fullerton said the move was part of the company’s drive to have a 30% female workforce by 2020. ARTC’s workforce currently comprises just 18% women, and its Hunter Valley workforce is just 12%.

“Increasing the diversity of our workforce is a must in today’s competitive business environment,” Fullerton said.

“We recognise that a talented and diverse workforce is fundamental to building a commercially-strong, innovative and customer-focused organisation.

“The rail industry is heavily male-dominated and our workforce, particularly in the field, is largely male. When recruiting for track roles the vast majority of applicants are also male.”

ARTC had to obtain an exemption from the Anti-Discrimination Board to direct its employment towards women; it is against the law in NSW for an employer to target a specific sex for a role without one.

The company will initially hire up to ten workers for the Hunter, with infrastructure maintenance and signalling maintenance roles on offer in Muswellbrook, Maitland, Scone and Newcastle.

“A more diverse workforce leads to greater innovation and creativity, develops stronger problem-solving skills through different ways of thinking and increases morale, motivation and engagement,” Fullerton said.

“Put simply, greater diversity leads to better business results.”

ARTC will hold the exemption for two years from July 6, 2015.

An information session will be held at ARTC’s Muswellbrook maintenance centre on Sunday, September 27 from 11am to 1pm.

Southern Cross Station. Photo: RailGallery / Inset: PTV

Mark Wild leaves Public Transport Victoria

Public Transport Victoria chief executive Mark Wild has resigned, and has been replaced with an interim CEO.

Victorian public transport minister Jacinta Allan announced on Wednesday, September 16 that she had accepted Wild’s formal resignation from the role of chief executive.

Wild will take up a position in the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

“I have worked closely with Mark over the past nine months on the Andrews Labor Government’s huge public transport agenda,” Allan said, “including Melbourne Metro Rail Project, 50 level crossing removals and new trains and trams for Victoria.”

Allan praised Wild for his “extensive experience and outstanding technical knowledge,” which she said had been valuable in developing the critical projects undertaken by the Andrews Government.

Gary Liddle, formerly the chief executive of VicRoads, will act as the interim CEO of Public Transport Victoria until a new chief is appointed.

Wild’s resignation comes roughly five months after former PTV chairman, Ian Dobbs, resigned from his post.

Public Transport Victoria is the statutory authority in charge of managing the state’s train, tram and bus services. It is responsible for providing, coordinating and promoting the public transport system.

Aurizon coal train. Photo: Aurizon

ChAFTA Bills hit Parliament

Aurizon, the Australian Minerals Council and Australian Dairy Industry Council are among the industry members to have welcomed the introduction of a series of Bills in Canberra on Wednesday morning to fulfil the China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

Minister for social service Scott Morrison and minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb presented five separate Bills in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, September 16, to ratify the ChAFTA.

Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Brendan Pearson welcomed the move, saying the FTA will further strengthen a minerals and energy trade already worth more than $80bn per annum.

“The agreement will eliminate Chinese tariffs – which currently range between 1.5% and 10% – on all minerals and energy exports within two years,” Pearson explained.

“When applied at current rates, these tariffs impose a burden of about $600m on the bilateral minerals and energy trade each year.”

Pearson has encouraged the Labor Opposition to support the Bills. While the Coalition holds a majority in the House of Representatives, it will need the support of the Labor Party to get the Bills through the Senate.

The Minerals Councils boss is concerned the unions, who are anti-ChAFTA, are having too much influence over the Labor Party.

“These opportunities [from ChAFTA] … have been put at risk by a mischievous and misleading campaign by sections of the trade union movement,” Pearson said on Wednesday.

“The CFMEU made similar scaremongering claims about earlier trade deals with Korea, Japan and Thailand. None of the union’s claims about those trade deals were ever realised.

“Passage of the legislation by late October/early November is absolutely essential. It will ensure that there is sufficient time for the entry-into-force to take place before the end of the year. That will mean Australian exporters will secure a two-stage tariff cut, with immediate tariff cuts on entry-into-force and again on 1 January 2016.

“Failure to achieve that would mean that the squalid and dishonest union campaign had cost hundreds of millions of dollars in benefits for Australian exporters.”

Aurizon chief executive Lance Hockridge joined in with the support, saying the ASX-listed operator welcomed the introduction of the legislation.

“Urgent ratification of ChAFTA is important for every sector of the economy,” Hockridge said on Wednesday. “ChAFTA will give Australian businesses an increased ability to access China’s massive, and rapidly growing middle class as a potential market for Australia’s professional services, tourism, education and agriculture products.”

Australian Dairy Industry Council chair Noel Campbell joined Pearson in urging Labor to support the legislation, saying it needs to put politics aside to get the deal done.

“I commend Minister Robb for introducing these Bills and urge both sides of Parliament to pass it promptly,” Campbell was quoted as saying by Farm Online.

“The ChAFTA is a great deal for Australian dairy and a great deal for the Australian community. To delay the ChAFTA means a lost opportunity, for jobs, farmers, and regional towns.

“We need to implement this deal swiftly to ensure Australia doesn’t fall further behind its competitors who already have an FTA with China.”

CEVA Logistics, ANZ managing director Clayton Noble. Photo: CEVA Logistics

CEVA Logistics gets new ANZ managing director

Logistics and freight management business CEVA Logistics has named a new managing director to lead its Australia and New Zealand business.

Former Fuji Xerox Australia chief operating officer Clayton Noble was announced as the new ANZ managing director this week.

Noble was responsible for running Fuji Xerox’s operational functions, including supply chain, customer support, managed services, professional services and business outsourcing services.

He also has experience in senior executive positions leading supply chain and logistics functions, with organisations including Dell (Asia Pacific and Japan), BAX Global and the Coles Myer Group.

Noble replaces Casey Fisher, who is returning to the USA to become the executive vice president of business development for CEVA’s North American operations.

“I am thrilled that Clayton has joined CEVA. I look forward to seeing him support our customers’ strategies and developing our operational footprint across Australia and New Zealand,” CEVA chief executive Xavier Urbain said.

“I would also like to thank Casey for his contribution at the helm of CEVA in Australia and New Zealand over the past three years. He played a key role in successfully restructuring the Australia and New Zealand business, introducing a new suite of offerings and increasing overall customer satisfaction”, Urbain said.

Noble said he was “excited to join CEVA in Australia and New Zealand at such an important time in the company’s evolution”.

Prior to his role as chief operating officer, Noble was executive general manager of supply chain operations at Fuji Xerox Australia from December 2010 to April 2014.

Before that he was an executive director at the computer company Dell, from September 2005 to December 2010.

Earlier roles included various executive positions over an eight-year stint at BAX Global (a former freight forwarder since integrated into DB Schenker) from September 1998 to September 2006.

He was also a logistics manager for Coles Myer for just under four years.

Noble is also a former officer in the Royal Australian Air Force, serving 15 years from 1979 to 1994.

He holds an MSc in Logistics Management (1990) from the US Air Force Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Business (1981) from the University of Southern Queensland.

Melbourne Tram. Photo: RailGallery

Tram drivers to strike on Thursday

Yarra Trams workers will go on strike for four hours on Thursday, the latest move in an ongoing saga between the Rail Tram and Bus Union and Melbourne’s tram and rail operators over new employment deals.

The planned four hour work stoppage, between 10am and 2pm, will impact tram services for a total of six hours, according to Yarra Trams.

Yarra Trams, a subsidiary of Keolis Downer, said Thursday’s strikes would impact services between 9am and 3pm, with extra time needed to return trams to depots in the morning, and to bring trams out of the depots in the afternoon.

RTBU Tram and Bus Division secretary Phil Altieri accused Keolis Downer of increasing profits while telling the union they couldn’t afford to increase wages as much as workers might like.

“[Keolis Downer] cry poor and say they can’t afford to run the system without stripping away our members’ conditions but the facts do not support this,” Altieri said ahead of the strikes.

“Every year they have had the contract their revenue has grown and their profit last year was more than 41% higher than their first full year of operating the franchise.

“Their claims that they need to strip away our members’ conditions in order to remain viable are ludicrous.

“They are, in fact, now earning more revenue per employee than ever before.”

Altieri’s assertion the tram operator is ‘crying poor’ follows similar allegations against rail operator Metro Trains by RTBU Victoria secretary Luba Grigorovitch last week.

Grigorovitch, talking on the union’s continued negotiations for a work deal for Metro workers, said the MTR Corporation – the Hong Kong-based business responsible for Metro Trains – has enough money to pay workers what they are asking for.

“Metro is part of a global conglomerate,” Grigorovitch said ahead of the Metro Trains strike last Friday, September 4. “They are big and rich enough to provide decent wages and conditions for public transport workers.”

Southern Cross railway station. Photo: RailGallery

Parsons Brinckerhoff gets new ANZ transport director

Engineering and design firm Parsons Brinckerhoff has named the its new director of transport for the Australia and New Zealand region.

The company’s Asia Pacific chief executive and president Guy Templeton announced Charlie Jewkes as the new director of transport for Australia this week.

Jewkes joined the business as its geotechnical and tunnelling section executive in 2006, and has been appointed to several key management roles since then, Templeton explained.

“Charlie’s appointment to the role of director of transport reflects our commitment to further expand what is a key national and global capability,” Templeton said.

“Charlie has strong client relationships across the region and proven skills in delivering major transport infrastructure projects and leading high-performing teams.”

In the past Jewkes has held leadership roles on some of the region’s major infrastructure projects, including CLEM7 and the Airport Link and Northern Busway in Queensland, the East West Link in Victoria, and the Victoria Park Tunnel and Waterview Connection in New Zealand.

Parsons Brinckerhoff, based in New York, was acquired by Canadian management and consultancy business WSP Global in 2014. The Canadian business bought Parsons Brinckerhoff from Balfour Beatty for roughly US$1.24 billion.

Templeton said Parsons Brinckerhoff was enjoying a positive market for transport in the Australia and New Zealand region.

“The buoyancy of the market means for the first time in many years we have major transport infrastructure opportunities in every region of Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“This year WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff has grown our ANZ transport team by over 10% and we are on track for a headcount in excess of 650 by the end of 2015.

“Our Western Australian and New Zealand teams in particular have experienced a strong period of growth with teams in both regions diversifying and expanding capability to service our clients.”

Melbourne Metro train. Photo: Creative Commons / Marcus Wong

Friday strike confirmed, Union claims Metro is milking it

The Rail Tram and Bus union says Melbourne passenger operator Metro Trains has cancelled too many services in response to planned strike action between 10am and 2pm on Friday.

Metro Trains announced a revised timetable for customers on Friday, with roughly 700 services cancelled across the network.

But the RTBU, which said last week it would take measures to ensure the strike only impacted the network for four hours, claims the rail operator cancelled more services than it had to.

The union says that the V/Line services – which will not stop through the city network – could still run with the staff provided by the union.

“The RTBU has repeatedly told Metro that enough signalling staff will be available to work on Friday, despite the stoppage, so that V/Line trains would be unaffected,” the union said.

The union says when it announced the strikes it sat down with Metro’s Signalling Manager and agreed on arrangements to allow V/Line services to run as usual.

In the days that followed, the union says it called and wrote to Metro’s Director of Operations to confirm the union’s agreement to ensure workers would cover enough signal boxes to enable third party services such as V/Line to operate as normal.

“On Tuesday, Metro rejected the RTBU’s offer for a skeleton staff of signallers to work during the stoppage,” the union claims.

“Despite this rejection by Metro, the RTBU has continued to volunteer signalling staff to cover the V/Line services on Friday.  As recently as [Thursday] morning, the RTBU wrote to Metro to confirm once again that signal staff would be available to work during the stoppage, so that regional commuters would not be affected by industrial action targeted at Metro.

“If V/Line services are affected by the strike on Friday, it will not be the union’s doing.”

Metro Trains CEO Andrew Lezala reportedly confirmed to News Corp. that with the timetables now in place, the strikes are confirmed to be going ahead on Friday.

“We have had to load up a new timetable, all driver rosters have been issued and it takes 48 hours to call the drivers and change the timetables,” Lezala was quoted as saying.

RTBU secretary Luba Grigorovitch said the union was “fed up with mistruths being spread about the impact of its industrial action”.

“The expected cancellation by Metro of a wide range of services on Friday beyond the four-hour stoppage period comes despite the RTBU’s repeated offers (including on the day of notifying action) to make staff available during the stoppage to ensure that all services which commence before 10am or after 2pm would run as timetabled,” Grigorovitch said.

Bill Shorten. Photo: Creative Commons / Orderinchaos

Hockridge joins push for Shorten to accept ChAFTA

Aurizon boss Lance Hockridge has joined a growing number of politicians and business leaders calling for Opposition leader Bill Shorten to support the proposed China Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA).

“It would be difficult to overstate the benefits the FTA with China will bring to Australia,” Hockrdige said in an address to the Australia China Business Council in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“Take as one example Aurizon’s customers in the Queensland coal sector, who are facing challenging times. The FTA will deliver them relief by cutting China’s import tariffs on our coal.”

Hockridge said the suggestion the FTA would hurt Australian jobs was “misinformation,” and said the agreement would actually help the jobs sector.

“[ChAFTA is] about job creation,” he said, “not job destruction as some would want the community to believe … the real benefit the FTA gives Australia is access to China’s large, and rapidly growing, middle class.”

Research from McKinsey, Hockridge said, indicated China’s middle class will grow from 200 million today to more than 600 million by 2022.

“What an opportunity in terms of a potential market for our professional services, for tourism, for education, and for our agricultural products,” the Aurizon boss campaigned.

“All this would be at risk if the campaign against the FTA was successful and ratification of the FTA was either blocked or stalled.”

ChAFTA, championed in Canberra by the Coalition, is being criticised by unions and the Australian Labor Party.

In recent days, however, state Labor leaders have called for the approval of the FTA. Victorian premier Daniel Andrews this week said, “The Chinese free trade agreement is good news for Victorian jobs and I support it.” And South Australian premier Jay Weatherill lent his support, saying the FTA “is a great way for us to underscore the fact that South Australia is open for business with China.”

NSW state Opposition leader Luke Foley and ACT chief minister Andrew Barr, both of the Labor party, also support the FTA. On top of that, Labor figureheads Bob Hawke, Simon Crean, Bob Carr and John Brumby have all lent their support.

Minister for trade and investment Andrew Robb welcomed the support from the Labor members, saying Opposition leader Bill Shorten was failing a “crucial test” by not approving the FTA.

“He needs to stop being led around by the nose by the CFMEU [trade union] and take a stand for jobs, growth and prosperity in this critical post-mining boom period,” Robb said on Wednesday.

“Make no mistake, if Labor seeks to obstruct this deal, China will walk away and pursue other opportunities with our competitors in places like South America,” Robb said. “This would be a dreadful outcome for our economy and Bill Shorten would be solely responsible.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott also criticised the Opposition leader, saying ChAFTA “means more jobs for Australians”.

“The only person standing in the way of jobs and the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is Bill Shorten – who is taking instructions from his union masters and the CFMEU,” Abbott alleged.

“If Bill Shorten and the Labor Party try to reject the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement they will be sabotaging our economic future and they will be turning their back on one of the greatest opportunities our country has ever been offered.

“I say to Bill Shorten: listen to decent Labor people, and stop dancing to the tune of the CFMEU standing in the way of jobs for Australian workers.”

Shorten says the Labor party supports FTAs, but opposes “bad trade agreements”.

“Labor believes in the principle and benefits of free trade agreements,” the Opposition leader said on Tuesday. “But we want to make sure that these free trade agreements are putting Aussie jobs first.

“Yes, I am different to Mr Abbott. I don’t automatically sign a blank cheque and not worry about the consequences on Australian jobs.”

The man who almost had Shorten’s job, shadow transport minister Anthony Albanese, stood in lock-step with his leader on Radio National on Wednesday.

“What we want to make sure is that this agreement is in Australia’s national economic interests,” Albanese told host Michael Brissenden.

“There’s no doubt there will be benefits from free trade but you need to make sure there are simple provisions that mean Australians for example can benefit from the jobs that are created, that’s the objective of the free trade agreement.

“It’s not some ideological thing in itself. It’s about real, practical benefits. And we want to make sure that those practical benefits go to Australia and to Australian job creation in particular.”

Metro Trains Comeng EMU. Photo: Zed Fitzhume / Creative Commons

Union turns on Labor in Victoria

The Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) has blasted the Victorian government, which it says has supported Metro Trains – and not union workers – throughout the ongoing labour dispute which is set to result in a four hour strike this Friday.

RTBU Victoria secretary Luba Grigorovitch on Wednesday said a Fair Work Commission appeal by Metro Trains to have the strike suspended was supported by the government.

The Fair Work Commission turned down the appeal, and the strike is set to take place between 10am and 2pm on Friday. While this was a small victory for the RTBU, Grigorovitch was alarmed at what she claimed was unfair support for Metro Trains’ side of the dispute from the Andrews Government.

“The government has mismanaged this dispute from day one,” the union leader said.

“At every step of the way they have supported Metro’s decision to take a hard line in negotiatons and their choice of aggressive legal tactics over genuine negotiations.”

Metro Trains is the operator of Melbourne’s metropolitan train network.

Grigorovitch said MTR Corporation, the Hong Kong based business that serves as parent company for Metro Trains, has enough money to pay workers what they are asking for.

“Metro is part of a global conglomerate,” she said.

“They are big and rich enough to provide decent wages and conditions for public transport workers. No one, let alone a Labor government, should support Metro’s efforts to boost their profits at the expense of their employees.”

Grigorovitch believes the government has made this lengthy dispute harder than it needs to be.

“This dispute wouldn’t have got to this point if the government had not taken sides and supported Metro’s heavy-handed tactics,” she argued.

“It is now time they accepted the umpire’s decision and bargain in good faith. The commission has ruled that our action is lawful and the government and Metro should rule out further legal action and commit to serious negotiations.”

Aurizon's new headquarters to open in 2018. Graphic: Google / Aurizon

New digs for Aurizon

Aurizon will move out of Brisbane’s city centre to a new building in Fortitude Valley in 2018.

Chief executive Lance Hockridge said on Monday the rail operator would move to 900 Ann Street, where construction will start on a new, custom-built 19,000m2 office tower in March 2016.

While the new office will be just a 10 minute drive up the road from Aurizon’s existing headquarters on Eagle Street, the new dedicated building will represent a much needed upgrade, Hockridge explained.

“We [need] to create competitive advantage as an employer of choice with a built environment that supported our drive to greater diversity, inclusiveness and collaboration across our workforce,” he said.

The 15-level tower, of which Aurizon will be the only resident, was designed by architect John Wardle and will be built by Hutchison Builders, according to a Fairfax report.

The new building will include a large conference centre. For employees the operator will offer a mezzanine foyer with coffee shop, ‘end-of-trip’ facilities (shower, locker rooms and bicycle parking), and easy access to transportation.

“We want to attract the best talent and nurture a high-performance culture that inspires collaboration, innovation and efficiency,” Hockridge said.

“The location provides a range of benefits for the company and our employees including excellent surrounding amenity, first class facilities, proximity to public transport and major transport networks, and accessibility to our major customers.”

More than just an improved facility, Hockridge said the move for a new building came at the right time in the market.

“The current market offered a fantastic opportunity for Aurizon to create a bespoke property that delivers benefits across all dimensions – cost and efficiency; environmental footprint; and a collaborative, flexible workspace,” he said.