Train controllers say they’ll bring coal trains to a grinding halt in central Queensland as they fight for better pay and conditions.
The Rail Tram and Bus Union says workers at Aurizon’s Rockhampton control centre have begun an indefinite period of stoppages and work bans after negotiations with the rail freight operator collapsed.
RTBU state president Bruce Mackie says 60 workers who control the entire coal network in central Queensland have been forced to act after Aurizon walked away from the negotiating table.
“No trains will be going anywhere when the work bans are on … it will have an effect on coal delivery,” he said on Thursday.
“We don’t take stop work action like this lightly because it does have flow-on effects to other people but unfortunately we’re at that stage now where this is the only option.”
Mr Mackie said Aurizon’s train controllers had effectively been offered a pay cut that was nothing short of insulting.
“Aurizon workers are fed up with the multimillion-dollar executive pay packets being pocketed by Aurizon executives, while workers are being offered wage reductions,” he said.
Aurizon said it was assessing the potential impacts of the protected industrial action and warned delays were possible.
“We … will continue to monitor the situation as part of our contingency planning processes to minimise disruption to our operations, our customers and the supply chain,” the company in a statement to AAP.
It said the union’s action was disappointing given Aurizon had spent nine months bargaining in good faith on a new enterprise agreement.
Staff have until Monday to vote on a revised agreement and if it’s accepted workers will lose the ability to take protected action from that day.
“Aurizon is encouraging the RTBU to allow their members time to reconsider the proposed offer before taking unnecessary industrial action which may harm our customers and the Queensland economy,” the company said.