Dr Bruce Flegg.
Dr Bruce Flegg. Brett Wortman

QBuild merger puts 900 tradesmen in the unemployment line

NEARLY half of Gympie's QBuild tradesmen have lost their jobs due to the merger of QBuild and Project Services.

A Department of Housing and Public Works spokesman confirmed that six field staff from Gympie were offered voluntary redundancies last week.

Seven tradesmen will remain employed with QBuild.

The amalgamation of QBuild and Project Services into a single business unit has result in a massive reduction of the QBuild workforce, with much of the work previously performed by staff now carried out by local contractors.

"The decision to untie QBuild work will result in greater efficiency and reduction in costs," the spokesman said yesterday.

"(This will) lead to more work being performed by local contractors, which will be good for the local economy."

Former Housing and Public Works Minister Dr Bruce Flegg said the decision to merge the two businesses into a single commercialised unit would save taxpayers around $120 million a year and reduce duplication of effort.

He said the amalgamation would result in a reduction of around 550 positions from the current QBuild workforce and a reduction of approximately 350 positions from the current Project Services workforce.

"It is expected the implementation of the new business unit and the subsequent reduction in the workforce will be completed by 30 June 2013," Dr Flegg said.

"This new entity will retain sufficient capacity to provide emergency response support following natural disasters, maintenance and contract management services to government agencies, particularly in regional Queensland, and risk mitigation to government in its asset delivery."

He said the changes included reducing the number of regional offices from 17 (11 QBuild and six Project Services) to five combined offices in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Toowoomba and south east Queensland.

It would also result in reducing direct involvement in maintenance and construction services in south east Queensland, he said.

Dr Flegg added that the Department would take every possible step to ensure that all existing apprentices would have the opportunity to complete their training.

At June 30 2012, the Department had a current intake of 298 apprentices whom will be supported to complete their training over the next four years.

It also promises to do what it can to provide ongoing employment opportunities for people with a disability.