How to tackle voluntary redundancy.
How to tackle voluntary redundancy. CHRIS ISON

QR National, unions to work on deal

QR NATIONAL and a group of five unions will spend the next two days trying to hammer out agreement on future redundancies before appearing in front of Fair Work Australia on Monday.

The rail company is fighting the five fronts after announcing last month it wanted to offer more than 900 voluntary redundancies.

Although it faced Electrical Trades Union and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union in the legal wrangling on Tuesday, on Thursday and Friday it will also confront the Australian Services Union, Rail Tram and Bus Union and the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Employees.

QR National has already proved itself willing to deal after handing a concession to the ETU on how 90 telecommunication and substation workers were being treated.

At first they were told to consider voluntary redundancies even before the company decided whether they were needed.
Before the next Fair Work Australia meeting on Monday, QR National will be asked by the unions to ensure all allowances are paid to workers made voluntarily redundant.

They will also push the rail freight giant to make the redundancies "truly voluntary".

Although unable to give forced redundancies due to a strict enterprise bargaining agreement, QR National can declare staff "surplus" when they are moved to an office to finesse their resumes and are given help to find work while being paid a base salary. Once a role is found, workers are expected to take it.

The unions believe workers feel obligated to volunteer for a redundancy to avoid the risk of becoming an "employee-in-transition".

AMWU state organiser Steve Franklin said allowances and the concept of a transition phase would be more challenging to negotiate.

"QR National have reached an agreed outcome on some of the others," he said.

"But they too might be some of the harder ones.

"You start with the easy and work towards the more difficult."

A spokesman for QR National said it and the unions were now working to resolve outstanding issues as part of the company's restructure.