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TRANSPORT Minister Jackie Trad has been forced to intervene in a new closed-shop job scandal at Queensland Rail, after it rejected dozens of applications from experienced train drivers.
Ms Trad had been unaware of a QR decision to issue pro-forma rejection emails to the drivers on Monday, until it was brought to her attention by The Courier-Mail.
Highly experienced drivers who previously worked in QR’s passenger or freight divisions were among the applicants issued form rejection emails.
The applicants currently work for interstate rail operators or for the state’s private freight operator Aurizon – formed after QR’s freight arm was sold in 2010.
It is understood ex-passenger-train drivers for QR with extensive knowledge of the Citytrain network were among those to be rejected.
The rail workers had been told they were eligible to apply for the jobs as former QR drivers.
A copy of the rejection email obtained by The Courier-Mail gives no explanation for the refusal.
Transport Minister Jackie Trad met with train driver and guard trainees recently. Picture: Mark CallejaQR yesterday did not comment, but it is understood drivers who split from QR in 2010 were not considered for the positions.
One Aurizon staffer said yesterday he was gobsmacked QR would reject some of the most experienced drivers in the state, instead hiring insiders with no driving experience.
“We could (be) up and running, driving passenger services within a very short period of time and helping to solve this (driver shortage) problem,” the driver said.
Ms Trad’s office initially denied QR had knocked back the applications, but yesterday she was forced to step in to direct QR to overturn the decision.
“I’ve moved immediately to instruct QR to ensure that all drivers with previous QR experience, including those who received a rejection letter, have their applications properly considered and assessed,” Ms Trad said in a statement.
The State Opposition has previously criticised Ms Trad for failing to immediately abolish closed-shop hiring rules giving first preference for driver jobs to train guards and the wider QR organisation, including those with no driving experience.
It fed into a systemic driver shortage model guaranteeing overtime payments for drivers and guards of about $1 million a fortnight, according to the Commission of Inquiry findings.
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