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480 jobs to cut be from Aurizon

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Rail freight operator Aurizon has announced plans to cut 480 employees from its Queensland operations by 2017 as part of a major restructure.

The company said around 480 people at its South Townsville and Southbank facilities will be affected as it moves to close the workshops.

The company is looking to move its heavy maintenance and component overhaul work to Rockhampton given its proximity to the coal industry to reduce costs.

It also plans to end passenger-related maintenance contracts for Queensland Rail at both sites.

A number of jobs are expected to be cut from both facilities in June, with redundancies to continue until the sites close in 2017.

The current number of Aurizon employed at the Redbank facility is 450, with 115 at South Townsville.

Aurizon said some workers would be redeployed or offered retraining opportunities.

It said all apprentices, trainees and graduates employed at affected locations will have training periods honoured.

“Aurizon understands the significant impact of the proposed changes on affected employees, and also local communities in which are people live and work,” the company said.

“No changes will be made until consultation has been completed with employees, and all feedback and suggestions from employees considered by the company.”

Last year, Aurizon announced plans to cut costs by more than $230 million over the next two years, with $70 million earmarked to be slashed from labour costs.

In a presentation to analysts, chief Lance Hockridge said the cost cutting measures were aimed at delivering positive outcomes for shareholders and customers.

Hockridge had previously said that company had staff levels that were higher than needed, which results in “high corporate overheads and bureaucratic structures”.

“Our cost base is too high when compared to competitors and rail industry peers,” he said.

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