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Queensland Rail (QR) has fought off an attempt by the rail union to block drivers being hired externally, paving the way for the operator to hire new drivers to fix south-east Queensland's crippled network.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union lodged a formal dispute with QR yesterday, leading to a closed-doors hearing at the Fair Work Commission on Thursday.
The commission ruled QR could proceed with external recruitment.
A driver shortage was one of the main factors behind a series of breakdowns the network experienced last year, which saw mass cancellations and reductions in services around south-east Queensland.
It prompted an inquiry into Queensland Rail operations, which recommended the Government look to fill the void by hiring externally.
As of last month, QR had trained just 28 of the 200 new drivers needed to stabilise its roster, with people already employed by QR in other roles considered for driver training in the first instance.
The union has previously claimed external recruitment would override provisions in the enterprise bargaining agreement for drivers which ensured candidates already employed by QR would be considered first.
Earlier, Transport Minister Jackie Trad accused the union trying to stall plans to fix the rail network.
"Queensland Rail has consistently worked in good faith with the unions and believe they have met all their obligations under the existing enterprise agreement," Ms Trad said.
"We make no apologies for fixing the trains and giving Queensland commuters the services they deserve.
"We are determined to ensure that this reform process continues."
Opposition transport spokesman Andrew Powell said the Labor Government was unable to bring the unions into line.
The union has been contacted for comment.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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