Aurizon’s new EAs to face Federal Court appeal

Aurizon has said it will wait until the Rail Tram and Bus Union’s appeal is heard in the Federal Court before suspending 12 existing enterprise agreements.

Last week the Fair Work Commission allowed Aurizon to terminate 12 expired enterprise bargaining agreements covering 6000 employees.

A full bench of the Fair Work commission found in favour of Aurizon, forcing workers back onto the rail industry award as of May 18.

The commission found in favour of Aurizon on grounds that the business needed to remain competitive.

This led to strikes last week, with work stoppages affecting depots at Callimondah (Gladstone), Rockhampton and Bluff, east of Blackwater.

Rail Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) state secretary Owen Doogan said the union had lodged an appeal against the decision in the Federal Court, with the hearing due to be held in Melbourne on May 21.

As a result, Aurizon announced today that it will hold off on acting on the termination of the enterprise agreements pending the hearing.

The company’s CEO Lance Hockridge said that while Aurizon does not accept that there is any error on the Fair Work Commission decision, it wanted to minimise disruptions to its employers and customers.

“After negotiations extending over two years we can wait a few more days to let the legal process play out,” Hockridge said.

Upon the termination of the current agreements, the terms of employment for affected Aurizon employees will be governed by the Rail Industry Award 2010, National Employment Standards, and Individual contracts of employment.

Aurizon said it will undertake to maintain a number of conditions such as base wages for six months post the termination, however a range of other terms and conditions "currently enjoyed by affected workers will be impacted".

“At the end of the way we want a fair deal for our employees that is competitive and allows our company to grow,” Hockridge said.

“That is why while the legal process is underway we will still continue to negotiate in good faith with the unions on the substantive and unresolved issues associated with the new agreements.

“Therefore we urge the unions to engage in meaningful and productive dialogue on the proposed new agreements.”

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