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QUEENSLAND Rail was last night in a desperate face-off against the train-crew union in a last-ditch bid to provide enough train services for tonight’s Riverfire event.
Transport Minister Mark Bailey and QR chief executive Nick Easy yesterday refused to rule out reduced services, which could cause widespread delays on Brisbane’s second-busiest night of the year.
It comes after a significant spike in absent and unavailable train workers in the past couple of days, during a bizarre feud between QR and the Rail Tram and Bus Union that’s before the Fair Work Commission.
Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy.
Queensland Transport Minister Mark Bailey.
QR has claimed the RTBU is behind an unprotected industrial action in retaliation for the sacking of a driver and a guard last week.
It has resulted in 21 drivers and 18 guards calling in sick for today, and leaves only five employees free to fill in should anyone else call in sick.
The commission last night heard that number could almost double today. Yesterday 40 drivers and 63 guards called in sick — a number Mr Easy said was unprecedented.
“We understand that this is based on disciplinary matters we have undertaken with train crews that has resulted in dismissals,” he said.
However, the union has hit back, claiming train crews were being asked to work extra shifts for the long weekend.
“They’ve put extra services on, it’s school holidays, it’s Riverfire, and people are being asked to work their days off. (QR) have managed the system so badly, they can’t run their services,” a union spokesman said.
“The fact they’re trying to blame the train crew, gives me the impression they can’t run the services. It’s a crisis for QR.”
Minister Mr Bailey said contingency plans were being put in place but added: “There is a risk to some services and I’m urging all parties to get together to resolve this matter in good faith as quickly as possible.”
The parties were still before the commission last night and it was unclear if the matter would be resolved.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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