Aurizon rail workers are up in arms after a Fair Work
Australia decision quashed 12 expired enterprise bargaining agreements covering
A full bench of the Fair Work commission yesterday found in
favour of Aurizon, forcing workers back onto the rail industry award as of May
18 unless workers and unions can agree with Aurizon on new enterprise
“We have concluded that it is not contrary to the public
interest to terminate the 12 agreements that remain the subject of this
application,” the commission said in its concluding comments.
The commission found in favour of Aurizon on grounds that
the business needed to remain competitive.
“Many of the provisions sought to be removed or varied are
not common in most enterprise agreements,” the FWC said.
“They restrict Aurizon in making business changes that it
wishes to make in response to a competitive market situation.”
Aurizon managing director Lance Hockridge said it was a
landmark decision for induistrial relation sin Australia.
“Our aim always has been to negotiate in good faith
workplace agreements that are contemporary and forward-looking, and match those
already agreed by unions with our direct competitors,” he said.
Rail Tram and Bus Union (RBTU) national secretary Bob Nanva
said the decision was a “kick in the guts to Aurizon workers, a massive blow to
regional Queensland, and a frightening sign of what’s to come for workers right
across the country”.
“Aurizon was sick of negotiating with its workers over
new agreements, so it decided to take its bat and ball and go home.
“The Fair Work Commission had to decide whether or not
this corporate tantrum, this industrial dummy spit, was in the public interest.
“Incredibly, the Commission decided that terminating
the agreements was in the public interest so that Aurizon could become more
“competitive”, at a time when Aurizon has around 70-75 per cent share in
“Aurizon has now been rewarded for its petulant and
aggressive behaviour with a massive advantage over its competitors.”
In January this year Aurizon announced it had more than doubled
half year profits to $308 million to December 2014, and further growth expected
with iron ore haulage to reach 23 million tonnes in 2015.
Nanva said the Commission had taken the pressure off Aurizon
to take bargain in good faith.
“There could be huge ramifications from the decision
beyond the rail industry,” he said.
“Other major employers right across Australia will be
thinking “if Aurizon can get away with this kind of industrial sabotage, we
might as well have a go at it too.”
“We could now be facing a tsunami of industrial
disputes right across the country as a result of this short-sighted decision.
Nanva said the RBTU was examining the decision to determine
potential avenues for appeal.