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A RAIL union official who stepped back into a coveted train driver job at Queensland Rail after a decade-long break has denied favouritism accusations, arguing he never technically left.
Rail Tram and Bus Union organiser Shayne Kummerfeld took unpaid leave from QR for a paid union job back in 2006, but says he is now returning to train driving so he can “relax a bit”.
Mr Kummerfeld left his full-time union organiser job on Friday after announcing in May it was “time to return to the footplate” to “enjoy some of the conditions I have helped negotiate for Traincrew, as well as some quality time with my wife and daughter”.
His return to the tools more than a decade on has triggered accusations of union favouritism by some ex-QR drivers working for rail freight operator Aurizon after they were refused QR jobs.
Multiple Aurizon drivers in March applied to fill QR driver vacancies, but many were rejected after failing to pass QR’s tough psychometric and psychomotor screening tests.
Shayne Kummerfeld.The State Opposition seized on Mr Kummerfeld’s return to the job as an example of union control at QR, accusing it of being “one rule for union bosses and another for everyone else”.
“My office has been inundated with contact from experienced train drivers from Aurizon and other operators who can’t get in the front door at QR,” LNP transport spokesman Andrew Powell said.
“Letting a union boss walk back into the driver’s seat after being away from QR for more than a decade is a kick in the guts to these drivers who want to work to get QR back on track.”
Mr Kummerfeld, a qualified driver, rejected “queue jumping”, saying he was entitled to return to his job.
“I’m not starting back at QR – I’m still at QR,” Mr Kummerfeld told The Sunday Mail. “I’ve been on leave without pay for quite a while,” he said.
“If you asked me for my employment history, I’ve been a driver with Queensland Rail since 1992, so I don’t think I’m going back, I’m just going back to what I used to do.”
An inquiry into the QR rail meltdown this year partly blamed falling driver productivity on inflexible union work rules and linked soaring overtime to a “structural shortfall of train crew”.
It also recommended dumping controversial “closed shop” job rules favouring internal recruitment.
QR chief executive officer Nick Easy said Mr Kummerfeld was required to undergo re-training due to the length of absence but existing QR drivers did not need to do retrospective psychometric testing.
This article first appeared on www.couriermail.com.au
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