Aurizon boss Andrew Harding has outlined a corporate restructure of the business, a fortnight after announcing the controversial decision to close its Rockhampton rollingstock maintenance workshop.
Harding, formerly the iron ore boss at Rio Tinto, joined Aurizon late last year, charged by the board with reinvigorating the Queensland-based rail operator.
He has since named a new CFO, pushed back against Adani’s Galilee Basin rail plan with one of his own, and announced the Rockhampton job cuts, which will see 180 axed.
He added to this action plan this week, saying the operator would move from a functional based model to a business unit model, designed along four core areas of the business: Network, Coal, Bulk and Intermodal.
Michael Riches will be the group executive for the Network vertical when the plan comes into place on July 1, replacing the outgoing Alex Kummant, would will depart this month after a five-year stretch at Aurizon, Harding added.
Harding assured stakeholders the business unit model would help drive transformation efforts with greater efficiencies, improved customer service and productivity improvements.
“Michael is an experienced executive with extensive regulatory and legal experience in Australia,” he said. “Our regulated network business is a key part of our business portfolio and Michael’s experience in negotiating regulatory outcomes will assist in driving reform for the benefit of Aurizon and our customers.”
Riches most recently held senior roles at Alinta Energy. Prior to that, he spent six years as a partner at Clayton Utz, and over 11 years at Minter Ellison.
The leadership announcement came amid outcry in the Rockhampton region over the job cuts detailed by the operator early this month.
180 Rockhampton workers will be sacked, while 126 permanent train crew positions in Central Queensland will be phased out and replaced with roughly 70 locally-based train crew contractor positions.
The announcement led unionists to accuse Aurizon of “corporate greed”.
“We are a generation of workers who is very much on the cusp of leaving the next generation of workers with inferior working conditions,” RTBU organiser Craig Allen was quoted by the AFR.
The union’s fight has reportedly won the support of Rockhampton mayor, Margaret Strelow.