QR National to offer redundancies

UP TO 900 QR National workers will have the option to take voluntary redundancies because the company must cut costs to take on its competition.

According to the Rail Tram and Bus Union, the vast majority of the positions being cut will be in Queensland although QR National has operations in New South Wales and Western Australia.

The 900 redundancies will be available to 6500 of QR's workers, or about two-thirds of its 9000-strong workforce.
QR National blamed the price blow-outs on bureaucracy left over from state ownership.

Managing Director Lance Hockridge - who earns between $1.7 million and $2.9 million in salary and benefits each year depending on his performance - said the redundancies were part of a restructuring across the group.

He said overstaffing, overheads and bureaucracy were the key issues being tackled in this round of job cuts.

A spokeswoman for QR National said there would be changes at its rail yard in Jilalan, south of Mackay, but declined to elaborate.

The RTBU understood operations in Maryborough would also be significantly affected.

QR National traditionally held a monopoly on Queensland rail operations, but since 2005, that has been challenged by newcomer Pacific National.

RTBU Queensland state secretary Owen Doogan said QR National was not able to force workers to take redundancies or move, thanks to a strict employment agreement negotiated before it was privatised.

He said he expected no more than 500 workers to take the deal.

Mr Doogan said the clauses protecting staff from forced redundancies had prevented massive job losses within the company.

It was not the first time the company has offered its workers a nudge toward the door, in April 2011, the company offered 660 voluntary redundancies.

More than 900 were prepared to accept.

Those payouts cost QR National more than $75 million at the time - or about $113,000 for each worker.

The same year, the company scored $1.6 billion in coal delivery and infrastructure contracts.

Mr Hockridge said staff costs needed to be cut if it was going to compete with other rail firms that are now bidding for giant infrastructure and coal delivery projects.

"Our cost base is too high when compared to competitors and rail industry peers," he said.

Mr Doogan said flooding in Central Queensland had hurt the revenue of the rail powerhouse.

The consultation period will run until June 22, with redundancies put in place by mid August.

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