AURIZON is set to increase its workforce in the coming months to ensure redundancies in Rockhampton can be carried out on time next year, a union leader says.
Instead of extending the life of the Rockhampton workshops, Aurizon has made an announcement to hire casuals to meet the demand for more work when it comes to coal haulage services.
Maintenance needs to be carried out on another 193 wagons, which have been in storage for around a year, according to the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union (AMWU).
To complete the scheduled work before the redundancy deadline, Aurizon has completed a new 24 hour, six day a week roster which is set to be implemented on November 13.
AMWU said Aurizon offered the suspected 15 to 19 casual positions to internal workers first, but no one had taken up the offer, which the AMWU says is a result of the employee's being treated like "rag dolls".
The AMWU have been in talks with the company to work out a reasonable roster and possible extension of the life of the Rockhampton workshop.
State organiser of the AMWU Peter Lyon said the announcement was another kick in the gut for Aurizon employees.
"Aurizon have suddenly announced that they have another 193 wagons that they have to do maintenance on, these have been in storage for a while and they are saying due to extra demand they've had to get them out and do extra maintenance checks on them," Mr Lyon said.
"To get them done so that the shop can be made redundant in the time frame they want to go onto a 24hour day, six day a week roster which has been a departure for these shops which usually work a two roster panel."
Mr Lyons said the workers were upset over the proposed roster as it would impact family relationships.
"We've had discussions with Aurizon about changing the panel of the roster which will hopefully happen," he said.
However when it comes to keeping the workshops open, Aurizon is adamant on the decision to close.
"They aren't going to extend the life of the place out at all," Mr Lyon said.
"When we asked the manager they just said that's the life of the Rockhampton workshops and that's it, the date will be stuck by."
Mr Lyon said Aurizon had trouble finding internal workers to fill the roles in the grit, shop, paint shop and side services.
"The existing staff have basically had enough, they are sick of being treated like rag dolls and most of them have said I'm out of here," he said.
"Some of them have gone out to mines or other places in town, it's good they are finding other work as they are highly skilled tradespeople."
Mr Lyon said all they were asking of Aurizon is to put their people first.
"We're asking them to extend the life of the workshop, put a family friendly roster on, allow those to stay if they want to and let them work out their time with some sort of dignity."
A spokesperson from Aurizon said a number of employees from the paint and grit shop at Aurizon's Rockhampton workshops recently left the company.
Due to extra demand for coal haulage services from their customers, Aurizon required another shift to be taken out in the workshops, which they say will only require five casuals in total to make up numbers.
"To fill the vacant and additional positions required (five in total), Aurizon sought expressions of interest from employees at the Rockhampton site to fill the roles. There was no interest expressed by existing employees," the spokesperson said.
"Aurizon has then engaged labour hire for two roles and is seeking to fill an additional three roles. This work is required so we can meet the needs of our customers."
Aurizon said they would continue to offer the roles to existing employees, including those affected by other changes on the site, as we move through the staged closure to mid-2018.