QR boss ‘threat’
A ROCKHAMPTON Queensland Rail manager allegedly told an employee he could have to use sick or annual leave to fulfil some future rural firefighting duties.
Rail Tram and Bus Union Rockhampton organiser Craig Allen said a volunteer of the rural fire brigade spoke about the alleged veiled threat at an appreciation barbecue held last week for the job firefighters did protecting the city’s homes and lives against the recent bushfires.
The rural fire brigade volunteer and QR employee was being hailed as one of the city’s heroes.
Mr Allen said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” by what had reportedly been said.
He said the manager didn’t want to pay workers, who volunteered with the rural fire brigade, during the 10-hour break they were forced to take after fighting a blaze.
The union said workers were not allowed back onto a QR site during this time, even if rostered on.
The manager allegedly believed this time should come from annual or sick leave.
Mr Allen also said the manager didn’t want to pay the firefighting volunteers who were deployed to any area outside Rockhampton, including interstate.
While not in a position to respond directly to the union claims, a Queensland Rail spokeswoman said the organisation was a big supporter of the rural firefighters.
“QR policy allows employees up to five days leave a year for training for emergency services organisations and then unlimited leave for emergencies as required,” the spokeswoman said.
“QR plays an active role in its local communities and prides itself on providing over and above service in helping communities through times of difficulty, including rural firefighting.”
She said the policy was in place for all workers.
Mr Allen said though an official complaint hadn’t been made the union was keeping a close watch on the situation.
Mr Allen believed the community would be outraged by the manager’s alleged actions. Union members also feared what would happen if the privatisation of Queensland Rail went ahead.
Meanwhile, he said $827 was raised at Thursday’s appreciation barbecue, which was held after a protest rally against the government’s proposed asset sell-off.
The money would go to The Caves and Belmont brigade.