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AURIZON coal trains travelling between Mount Isa and Townsville will grind to a halt today as Rail Tram and Bus Union members strike in a bid to bring forward stalled wage and condition negotiations.
Combined union train operations members working for Aurizon on the North West Rail Corridor at the Hughenden, Cloncurry and Mount Isa depots are undertaking 24 hours of protected industrial action from today.
Members will also participate in a seven day overtime ban immediately after the strike action.
RTBU Northern District Organiser Les Moffitt said morale through the Aurizon workforce was at an “all time low” as the negotiations drag on.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union Northern District Organiser Les Moffitt said morale through the Aurizon workforce was at an “all time low”.“To date bulk Enterprise Agreement negotiations, which are being held in Townsville, have been moving very slowly with management showing no real commitment in trying to reach on agreement in principle while at the same time not agreeing to back pay employees once an agreement has been reached,” he said.
“This industrial action will disrupt a number of train services between Townsville and Mount Isa during the 24 hour period, was well as the following week while an overtime ban will be in.”
Negotiations between Aurizon and the union for a new Enterprise Agreement began in September 2018 and were last held on December 19, 2018.
Mr Moffitt said Aurizon has since refused to meet with the union until February this year.
“The company refused the unions requests to meet at an earlier date to try progress the matter in a timely manner, which was part of the reason that has trigged the industrial action,” he said.
“Unions are calling on Aurizon to recommence negotiations and to bargain in good faith as soon as possible.”
Mr Moffit said one of the key concerns the union wanted addressed in the new agreement was working conditions.
“In particular train drivers with their rosters, they’re governed by the train timetables and they deserve to be able to have quality time at home with their families too,” he said.
“If the trains run early or late then they most too so rostering conditions are very important.”
A spokesman for Aurizon has previously called the strike actions “disappointing” and “unnecessary”.
The company told media in December it would resume negotiations with the unions once an undertaking was given to cease protected industrial action while the talks take place.
This article first appeared on www.townsvillebulletin.com.au
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