Confusion reigns as Downer workers fear future of rail jobs
DELAYS on the arrival of the New Generation Rollingstock trains at Downer EDI's Maryborough factory could force the site to can contractor jobs, one source claims.
The details emerged after a Downer worker, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Chronicle between six to nine contractors were told they would be moved on once their six-month rail work contracts were up.
This is despite the company ramping up their workforce after the State Government announced in November last year the troubled trains would be repaired at the Maryborough factory.
Since the announcement, Downer, the State Government, Bombardier and Queensland Rail have been locked in negotiations on transporting the trains to the Heritage City.
Enterprise Bargaining Agreements between Downer and the contract workforce also hit a lull, causing hundreds of workers to walk off the job in union-led strike action yesterday.
The anonymous Downer worker said the hold-up of the NGR trains at the factory had caused several workers to be "put to the knife".
He said at least two people had been let go because of the arrangement.
"All the guys there are wanting to do the work, but it's falling away," the worker said.
"I'd even heard at the rally today, one of the top Downer bosses said no one would lose their job because of the promised work.
"So now everyone on a contract is assuming they will be let go because of the fair leg of time in between the contracts."
But Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders said the hold-up of the trains was an issue with the companies and not the State Government.
"It wouldn't be delivered on the Monday after the Premier's announcement, there was always going to be that hold-up," Mr Saunders said.
"The Premier made it quite clear they would not be back in the next week, and that we had to work through and get disability access right.
"It had to go through the parties."
When asked what the State Government was doing to ensure the promised jobs would not be lost, a Palaszczuk government spokesman said enterprise bargaining was "a matter between Downer and their employees".
"More than $70 million of Queensland Rail maintenance work is under way right now at Downer with more to come," the spokesman said.
Staff from the Maryborough factory gathered at Bunnings Warehouse during yesterday's strike over alleged pay disputes with the company.
Union representatives were tight-lipped over the reason for the strike.
A Downer spokesman said the company was renegotiating its EBA with employees at Maryborough.
"Industrial action at the site is currently having no impact on the work program and our planned delivery of projects for the Queensland Government are on track," the spokesman said. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced two weeks before last year's state election that 30 of the troubled Indian-built trains would be modified in Maryborough.
In June, $10 million was allocated to fix design flaws at the Maryborough Downer factory to better accommodate the trains, including the installation of new track, extra cranes and upgrading power lines.