'Uncertainty' over job cuts eating away at Rocky workers

HEIGHTENED "uncertainty" over possible job cuts is eating away at Aurizon workers at its Rockhampton depot, a worker says. 

The worker, Jeff*, said he's seen his workshop "dwindle away" to half its original size since it was made public about eight years ago, particularly in redundancy rounds over the past few years.

"They (workers) do worry that they're not going to have a job," he said.

"The feeling at the moment is people are putting their lives on hold when they think they might not have their job next week.

"You don't buy a house, or a car, because you think you won't have the money next week."

Jeff said "morale dropped to an all-time low" following a notice issued by management to employees telling them "people might feel uncertain about the future, but just keep your mind on the job and stay safe".

"You've got a workforce that's always on its toes, thinking they might not have a bloody job," he said.

Aurizon workers.
Aurizon workers. David Nielsen

He said the notice triggered anxiety in several employees who approached him worrying more jobs would be cut at the Rockhampton depot as part of a company-wide restructure.

"They'd read this email, (and) that worries people," he said. "Tells us if it's going to shut down, so we at least know what's going on. At the moment, we are just in limbo.

"We don't know what the future holds.

"You don't go out and buy a brand-new car today if you don't think you'll have a job for you."

An Aurizon spokesman said "if any changes are proposed" it would consult its employees. 

"Aurizon has an ongoing program of initiatives as part of organisational transformation, to lift productivity, improve customer service and reduce business costs," the Aurizon spokesman said.

"As part of this work, we are continuing to review the company's operational footprint, including facilities, operations and infrastructure.

"If any changes are proposed as part of Aurizon's ongoing transformation activities, Aurizon will undertake a detailed consultation process with affected employees."

Craig Allen, Rail, Tram and Bus Union's (RBTU) Rockhampton organiser, the union that represents Aurizon workers at its Bolsover St freight depot, said southern media reports about further job losses had also fuelled anxiety among workers.

Mr Allen said he spent "a good portion" of yesterday at the depot with RBTU's delegates to reassure workers it is pushing Aurizon for answers on possible job losses.

He said Aurizon's CEO Andrew Harding has pre-empted "some big announcement" at the End of Financial Year (EOFY) but details of it are unknown. 

"There's no meat on the bones," he said.

"They're (the workers) anxious. They're uncertain.

"(We) don't know what it's all going to mean."

He said the company had previously announced redundancies at EOFY without keeping its employees informed beforehand.

 "(It's about) share prices. Shareholders. It's all wonderful for them it's not wonderful for the ones that work for them.

"The unknown, the uncertain future. What does it mean for me? What it means for my children my mortgage payments? We are dealing with people. We are dealing with people's lives." 

*The worker's name has been changed to protect his identity.

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