Rail worker fears June 30 close of Pacific National in Tasmania

22/05/2018 Posted by admin

PACIFIC National would exit the State on June 30, throwing 200 people out of work, Rail, Tram and Bus Union divisional secretary David Payne said.Mr Payne, a train driver with Pacific National who has been forced to take annual leave for the past three weeks because of a lack of work at the company, said he was notified this morning that Pacific National would exit the State in 20 days.He said staff were being sent memos in the post outlining their future and any financial compensation.“They had a commitment with the State Government to make a staged exit over the next six to 12 months so it is earlier than expected,” Mr Payne said.“There are probably about 200 people affected, which takes into account contractors and labour hire workers.”The rail company, which is owned by Asciano, has failed to sell its operation, which includes rolling stock and the lucrative West Coast line.The business is believed to be worth between $10 million and $20 million.Pacific National today confirmed that it would terminate its current contracts for bulk customers on the West Coast — blaming the lack of a long-term lease with TasPorts for the use of the Burnie Wharf.TasPorts business development general manager Nathan Spicer has accused Pacific National of using TasPorts as an excuse for ceasing operations.“We wrote to Pacific National last Friday offering to extend the existing lease until June, 30, 2010 pending the outcome of further negotiations between Asciano and the State Government on the future of rail operations,” Mr Spicer said.“So we are surprised they are now using this as an excuse for shutting down operations.”But a spokeswoman for Pacific National said that while an extension to the lease was made, the absence of “long term” surety over the facility meant PN “could not justify the investment required to meet obligations under the current minerals contracts”.The State Government has not ruled out buying the West Coast line and finding another company to operate it for the mines to transport their bulk materials to the Burnie Port.Pacific National said it would make an announcement about its intermodal business operation “shortly”, which Mr Payne understood to mean this afternoon.The main North-South rail line is already closed for repairs after an accident last month, adding up to 100 trucks onto the Midland Highway each day.
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