Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt has stepped up to the mark to help two Queensland Rail workers facing dismissal because their literacy level was not considered up to scratch. The Innisfail-based pair have been asked to leave the company with six months pay in hand.
Mr Pitt said the workers deserve a fair go and has sought an explanation from Minister for Transport Rachel Nolan.
“They are long-term employees having worked for Queensland rail for over 25 years, so to suddenly terminate their employment after many years of satisfactory work is not acceptable,” Mr Pitt said.
“Mr Singh and Mr Matthews are loyal workers and I’d like to see some recognition by their employer of their dedication which spans more than two decades.
“Making a contribution to the workplace is about more than literacy levels. It would appear that they have managed very well up to this point with their spoken English skills.
“I understand that Queensland Rail provided workers with courses to ensure they are able to undertake paperwork related to pre-start briefs, hazard identification, and chemical usage and label identification.
“However in the case of the two workers from Innisfail, it is obvious that they require more individual assistance and more time to be skilled up to meet the new requirements.”
Mr Pitt said while he welcomed the focus by Queensland Rail on improved safety measures, the requirements have essentially seen the workers’ job descriptions changed and this was a situation not of their making.
“Even though I desperately want a good outcome for these men, at no stage would I like to see workplace safety compromised,” Mr Pitt said.
“Even though Mr Singh and Mr Matthews have accepted an offer from QR in-principle, I believe it is because they feel they have no other choice. They’d much rather have their jobs back.
“I don’t think this was handled well by QR and I certainly don’t want to see workers shunted out the door without the options having been fully explored. We owe them that much.
“The onus is on Queensland Rail to provide these workers with options that could see them continue to be employed – perhaps paired with workmates that could assist and mentor them over a longer period.
“I can’t promise what the outcome will be but I think there’s more work to be done by QR in this case.”
Rail Tram and Bus Union spokesman Richie Bates thanked Mr Pitt for his assistance.
“I’m really happy at his quick response to the concerns raised and I’m that he’s gone into bat for these workers,” Mr Bates said.
“We need to make sure that this isn’t the thin edge of the wedge – it would be a worrying trend.”