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QUEENSLAND Rail has booked up units on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games and will offer train drivers “incentive payments” to ensure they show up to work during the event.
Internal QR documents obtained by The Sunday Mail reveal negotiations are underway to offer a “Games incentive payment” to train drivers and other staff to deter them from calling in sick.
The initiative comes after a horror 12 months for the rail network in which an ongoing driver shortage caused mayhem, including the embarrassing cancellation of hundreds of services last Christmas Day.
The “incentive” shows QR is going to great lengths to prevent a repeat of that meltdown, and it comes amid a scramble to train new drivers and prepare problematic new trains for service.
According to QR documents, the payment is “aimed at maximising attendances and providing business flexibility”, and it makes up for restrictions on annual leave during the event and working late schedules.
Train drivers are paid about $98,000 a year after this year winning a 12 per cent pay rise over four years, but this can rise to six figures when overtime is included.
Chief executive Nick Easy says significant planning is underway to ensure Queensland Rail is appropriately staffed throughout the Commonwealth Games. Picture: Liam KidstonServices Union state secretary Neil Henderson said the incentive payment was proposed by QR and would outstrip the $4-an-hour sweetener offered during the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.
“It’s based on the premise that people will go above and beyond what might normally be the arrangement to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible,” he said.
As part of its Games preparations, QR has also booked 10 Gold Coast units, as well as accommodation in Logan and Brisbane, during the April event for “frontline security, emergency and critical incident response teams”.
“Given the importance of this event, Queensland Rail is undertaking significant planning, including around resources and accommodation, to ensure our teams are appropriately staffed and situated to manage our operations throughout the Games,” chief executive Nick Easy said.
Hotels near event locations are quickly booking out, with room rates of $1000 a night or more.
The preparations coincide with concerns about traffic chaos on the M1 during the event, with Government forecasts last month of a “high crash risk” on some sections, and poor travel times.
Extra rail services have been planned, but uncertainty remains over whether new trains ordered from India will be on the tracks in time after a series of setbacks delaying their rollout.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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