Monday, June 28, 2010

Queensland Rail Incurs The Wrath Of Australian Court

Disregard for Workers Rights Reaps a Maximum Fine
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – Five trades unions who pursued legal action against Queensland Rail have won their claim for maximum penalties of A$660,000 for failing to properly consult workers when a decision was made to sell off the state owned assets to private investors. QR National, the bulk haulage section which freights the immense tonnages of ore and coal will be separated from the rest of the group and sold by way of an IPO later in the year.

The Court decided that although the company and the Government had made their intentions as to the future of the group quite clear, Queensland Rail had, said Federal Court Justice John Logan ‘utterly failed’ in its duty to allow the unions access to a full and fair consultation process as specified in the company’s terms and conditions of employment.

The five unions involved had asked for, and received, the maximum amount allowable and all vowed to use the money to fight what they say are ‘deeply unpopular’ changes. Union representatives said no money would go to fund the ruling Labor Authority which supported the revisions. Feelings are running very deep and the unions say they will continue a campaign to halt the sell off which they claim the vast majority of the public disagree with.

Despite the controversy both the state authorities and the company hierarchy insist that the sale will proceed as planned. State representatives said that the Court had made no mention of stopping the privatisation process and that they were preparing to appeal the Court’s decision.