100th locomotive nears completion

AS DOWNER EDI Rail nears a manufacturing milestone, the mood among workers is upbeat and positive about what else is coming down the track.

“Nothing is guaranteed in life but we have to put faith in the company,” Australian Manufacturing Workers Union senior delegate Brad Hansen said this week.

“With all the work predicted to come online in Queensland in the next 12 months, I'd be fairly confident about the company looking to retain workers.”

The decision by Transport Minister Rachel Nolan to include a local element in the tender process for a major 200-train QR project lifted the gloomy shadow that had descended on the Bowen Street plant in May.

QR had called for expressions of interest in a contract to build hundreds of rail cars and carriages for its Brisbane network. The order was five to 10 times bigger than usual orders to Maryborough and overseas bids for the contract were anticipated.

“We successfully lobbied the government to include some things in the tender process to put us on a more balanced playing field,” Mr Hansen said.

“It is a local industry participation plan. The companies that tender have to do a plan to outline how jobs will be maintained and created. That's a bonus.

“Local content is now a feature of the tender. It's not all about price. Social and economic factors are for consideration, too.”

Fraser Coast councillor Gerard O'Connell also took the opportunity this week to highlight the importance of Downer EDI and Bombardier to the Fraser Coast economy, when he met with Federal Government representatives at a Keep Australia Working forum.

“You need to understand this is a region that is very proud of its manufacturing tradition,” Mr O'Connell told Jason Millward, the government's newly appointed local employment co-ordinator for the region.

“We need them to know we're an area with initiative. If they've got money to spend, here's a good region to spend it in. We will give you problems but we will also give you our solutions and ideas to go along with them. Our question is, where do you fit in?”

He estimates Downer-Bombardier injects a combined $220 million into the region's economy.

Downer EDI is expected to complete building of its 100th locomotive at Maryborough before the end of the month.

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