Statement from RTBU National Secretary Bob Nanva re Fair Work Commission decision on Aurizon EBAs
Today’s decision by the Fair Work Commission to terminate 12 Enterprise Agreements, covering 6,000 employees, is a kick in the guts to Aurizon workers, a massive blow to regional Queensland, and a frightening sign of what’s to come for workers right across the country.
Let’s be clear about what today’s decision means.
Aurizon was sick of negotiating with its workers over new agreements, so it decided to take its bat and ball and go home.
It wanted to terminate 12 agreements covering 6,000 workers and throw them all back onto the minimum award protections.
The Fair Work Commission had to decide whether or not this corporate tantrum, this industrial dummy spit, was in the public interest.
Incredibly, the Commission decided that terminating the agreements was in the public interest so that Aurizon could become more “competitive”, at a time when Aurizon has around 70-75 per cent share in Queensland.
Aurizon has now been rewarded for its petulant and aggressive behaviour with a massive advantage over its competitors.
The Commission has taken the pressure off Aurizon to take bargaining seriously and to renegotiate a reasonable deal with its employees.
A handful of well-paid Commissioners have put a dagger through the heart of workplace conditions including maternity leave and job security protections.
There could be huge ramifications from the decision beyond the rail industry.
Other major employers right across Australia will be thinking “if Aurizon can get away with this kind of industrial sabotage, we might as well have a go at it too.”
We could now be facing a tsunami of industrial disputes right across the country as a result of this short-sighted decision.
This decision means that agreements negotiated in good faith are now fair game.
The RTBU is examining the decision to determine potential avenues for appeal.
We will also consult with our fellow unions to discuss the broader ramifications of this decision and what it means for our national workplace relations system.
Frankly, we’re stunned by today’s extraordinary decision. It’s clear that employers, and even the Fair Work Commission itself, have been emboldened by the aggressive anti-worker agenda of the Abbott Government and Workplace relations Minister Eric Abetz.