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Rail workers could sit in a public sector “waiting lounge” for years before leaving with hefty redundancy payments as a result of a recent court ruling.
It could lead to the return of a scheme that allows public servants to remain in limbo for years without being forced out.
The Fair Work Commission found train drivers’ redundancy payments should be based on a salary including expected penalty rates and overtime – not just the base salary of about $80000. Keolis Downer need about 170 drivers.
Rail, Tram and Bus Union (RTBU) SA/NT secretary Darren Phillips told The Advertiser the decision will give workers “peace of mind about their future employment options”.
“The decision gives workers the best possible chance to find employment within the government without a 12-month clock ticking,” he said.
Rail Tram and Bus Union branch secretary Darren Phillips said a court redundancy ruling gave workers peace of mind. The government is supporting an appeal against it. Picture: Tricia Watkinson
However, Department for Infrastructure and Transport Chief Executive Tony Braxton-Smith, in his role as Rail Commissioner, will fight the ruling.
A department spokesman said the appeal would focus on a number of incorrect determinations including “the remuneration of a suitable job offer for redeployment” and “the process and time frame under which the redeployment process ends and an employee may be made redundant.”
Treasurer Rob Lucas supports the appeal.
“The government’s position is that the no forced redundancy policy referred to in the Enterprise Agreement, as agreed by the former Labor government, was only to apply for a set period and after that time employees could be subject to a forced redundancy,” Mr Lucas said.
Australian Employment Alliance principal partner Gary Collis, who is representing a number of train drivers, said there is a significant level of frustration from workers about the process to transition from public sector employment to Keolis Downer.
“It is my view that at the moment there is a significant number of employees who will remain in government and seek training to fill other positions,” he said.
However, the Fair Work Commission last month determined the 12-month clause should not apply to rail workers that do not move over to the new train operator, Keolis Downer.
Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said the ruling highlighted how the privatisation process continued to cost SA taxpayers.
A Keolis Downer spokesman said the decision should not affect the timing or process for the transition of rail operations is to begin on January 31.
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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