Stand-off over timber

SLEEPER cutters have been refusing to work for contractors providing Queensland Rail with timber, despite the offer of more money than they previously earned.

Boundary Creek Timber and Transport owner Jarrod Pershouse, who has recently won a contract with QR, said he was struggling to find subcontractors willing to cut sleepers, even though the same sleeper cutters had been vocal about losing work.

The struggles come after QR changed the way it sourced the sleepers, to bring the process in line with all other government operations.

The rail company recently awarded eight tenders to provide it with sleeper cutters over the next three years.

Of those, five were from the Bundaberg and North Burnett regions - three companies and two sole operators.

Mr Pershouse said he had approached a number of sleeper cutters to subcontract for him, but that they had declined as a protest against the tender system implemented by the State Government earlier this year.

"They are more interested in getting a compensation package than getting out there and cutting timber," he said.

Mr Pershouse said he was able to offer better rates for the sleepers than previously.

"I have a budget that I am giving them about a 10% increase compared to what they were earning," he said.

But Mr Pershouse said if he could not fill his order for QR sleepers, the remainder would be referred to other approved contractors.

He said he had found the new tender process fair.

"Everyone had the same opportunity to put in a tender," he said.

Member for Burnett Rob Messenger, who has been working with a number of sleeper cutters following the tender changes, said some were concerned about pay delays if they subcontracted.

"They are being asked to be on 60-day contracts, where previously they were getting paid within seven days from QR," he said.

Mr Messenger also said no work had been offered in writing to the timber cutters.



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