AS SOON as tomorrow more than 20 Pacific National employees from Werris Creek and Narrabri could be given their marching orders under a company restructure.
The Rail, Tram and Bus Union said the company had told employees last month a total of 165 jobs would be cut, and while it hasn’t been confirmed, union officials are fearful the forced redundancies could start tomorrow.
Twenty-one will be lost locally from the Pacific National Bulk division, all of them train crew.
Union official Kevin Pryor said among the reasons given by the company for the redundancies were expectations of a reduced grain harvest, a “short-term view” given forecasts of a doubling of rail freight in the next 20 years.
The union believes instead it’s an attempt “to off-load permanent workers so they can be re-hired as casuals on lower pay and inferior conditions”.
Mr Pryor said the union had lodged a notice of dispute with the company last Tuesday, but on Friday had yet to receive a formal response from the company.
“What’s concerning is they’re proceeding without showing their reasons (for the redundancies) are legitimate,” he said.
Under the existing enterprise bargaining agreement, Pacific National is required to consult with the union prior to the approval of any redundancies and demonstrate that it has no further need for the workers.
The union has asked for the company’s past and current growth projections, train plan forecasts, proposed master rosters and all other relevant material.
“If Pacific National seriously believes that its freight volumes are about to dive, then let’s see the evidence,” Mr Pryor said.
If the company doesn’t respond to the notice of dispute, the union will file a motion with the Fair Work Commission.