Striking railway workers gather outside Robert Schwarten’s office yesterday to voice their concerns about the privatisation of QR. Mr Schwarten wasn’t in his office at the time.
Striking railway workers gather outside Robert Schwarten’s office yesterday to voice their concerns about the privatisation of QR. Mr Schwarten wasn’t in his office at the time. CHRIS ISON CI

Walk-out protests rail sale

MORE than 400 Queensland Rail workers walked off the job in Rockhampton yesterday to protest against the State Government’s decision to publicly list the company.

Premier Anna Bligh on Tuesday announced QR would be split into two entities, with the coal and freight business and its above-rail infrastructure floated under the name QR National.

Passenger rail services would remain part of the Government-owned corporation called QR, and a 99-year lease over the coal rail network would be included in QR National.

The decision to sell off parts of QR and other government assets was made in the June budget, and has been widely condemned by voters and the unions.

Rail Tram and Bus Union Rockhampton organiser Craig Allen was yesterday scathing in his attack on the Premier.

“Workers are disgusted,” Mr Allen said.

“To rush an announcement like this just before Christmas is a desperate tactic by a desperate leader.

“This fight has just begun.”

He dismissed the proposal to give all workers a $1000 stake in the company.

“Who’d want $1000 to get rid of job security?” Mr Allen said.

He said local MPs Robert Schwarten and Paul Hoolihan should stand up for the community and not the interests of Ms Bligh.

About 200 workers yesterday held a stop-work meeting at 8am.

About one hour later they went back inside QR’s Bolsover Street depot to listen to the company’s chief executive, Lance Hockridge.

Soon after this they voted to take action.

Only one worker voted against the motion, before workers organised to go to Mr Schwarten’s office and let him know their thoughts.

The decision was backed by their workshop colleagues on the later shift, making a total of about 450. Workers will return to work today at 7am.

Mr Allen said across Central Queensland there were about 4500 QR workers and all of these would be affected.

– Additional reporting AAP

What’s on the line

QR National will have a 99-year lease over the state’s coal and general freight networks;

An initial public offering will go ahead in the second half of 2010;

The Government will initially retain 25 to 40% of the new company;

There will be a guaranteed allocation for Queensland residents;

QR coal and freight workers will get $1000 worth of shares and will have the option of buying an additional $4000 of shares at a discounted price.

Workers’ jobs have been guaranteed for two years.

Who’d want $1000 to get rid of job security?



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