HELP WANTED: Workers from Downer rally outside their workplace to win more contracts for their company – and job security for workers.
HELP WANTED: Workers from Downer rally outside their workplace to win more contracts for their company – and job security for workers. Alistair Brightman

Downer rally calls for manufacturing work and job security

A WAR cry calling on the State Government to provide more manufacturing work and job security has been screamed out at the gates of Downer EDI.

The call came outside the factory in Maryborough on Wednesday when about 170 workers met to press the government for more rail contracts.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union rally urged Downer employees to start a campaign for regional job security.

In 2011 Downer EDI pulled out of a tender process with Queensland Rail to build 200 trains that could have netted $3.2 billion and created hundreds of jobs, citing "onerous" terms and conditions, which made it financially unviable.

It would have cost Downer EDI about $10 million if it continued in its joint venture with Bombardier, with no guarantee of a contract at the end. That work later went offshore.

In the same year a $60 million contract to supply 17 trains to Tasmania was awarded to Downer but Maryborough's factory did not see a cent in wages.

A community campaign has begun to save manufacturing jobs in the heritage city.
A community campaign has begun to save manufacturing jobs in the heritage city. Hayden Johnson

The Maryborough workforce shrank by 20% in December 2012 when 68 workers were sacked.

Two years later in July, 12 more people were made redundant.

Last year Downer EDI received several contracts worth more than $40 million to maintain and refurbish train componentry and carriages.

Some of that work is likely to be completed this year and the remainder seals work maintaining wagons until 2020.

AMWU state secretary Rohan Webb called on the government to stop "drip-feeding" short contracts and provide more certainty.

"Spread the word in your local community - we need long-term contracts," he said.

The rally was organised to combat the claimed threat of "imminent redundancies" due to a downturn in work.

Downer spokesman Michael Sharp repeated the company's comment that there was "no plans to close its Maryborough rail facility".

Member for Maryborough Bruce Saunders pledged to take the union's fight "to the halls of parliament".

"I won't let you down, this facility is the heartbeat of Maryborough," he said.

GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN

  • Will see corflutes and banners established in Maryborough
  • Aims to secure longer contracts for Downer EDI


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