Another 2000 Queensland public servants are bracing for a tap on the shoulder after the state announced a mass purge of transport workers in its multibillion-dollar cost-cutting drive.

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Underpinning their fears, the state government has not promised to refrain from forced redundancies, nor has it ruled out further cuts or privatisation.

The government announced in parliament on Tuesday that 1970 full-time workers, or 18 per cent, would go as part of a major restructure of its transport bodies. About 600 will be axed from RoadTek, 70 from Translink, and the rest from the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Translink will be absorbed into the Department of Transport and Main Roads to reduce duplication. The TransLink board will be removed, and the number of senior executives slashed by almost half to 21.

Transport Minister Scott Emerson said the cuts would save $287 million over four years but he did not know how much the redundancies would cost.

He is also yet to tell staff who will be going. Over the coming months they will be offered voluntary redundancies or alternative positions where possible.

“Not everyone will have those jobs elsewhere, that is the case,” Mr Emerson told reporters in Brisbane.

There are now over 6500 confirmed job losses in the public sector since Premier Campbell Newman came to power in March, and he is eyeing another 13,500.

Mr Emerson said he expected Queensland Rail would have potential cuts finalised in the next few weeks. There is speculation that 2200 out of 7200 jobs will be abolished.

Public Works Minister Bruce Flegg confirmed on Tuesday that 300 full-time workers on temporary contracts had been axed between March and July from government construction business QBuild. Only 78 workers are left on temporary contracts, and an undisclosed number will be picked off in the coming months.

Dr Flegg said a decision wouldn’t be made until after the September budget on whether permanent QBuild staff would also go.

The opposition says it believes 600 of the staff are doomed. Dr Flegg couldn’t rule out privatising QBuild outright.

“I think that would be a very extreme outcome and in my view not the best outcome, but these decisions aren’t necessarily mine,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

The union representing public servants, Together, says the government has launched an outrageous attack while the public is focused on the Olympics and it may be about to break an election promise of no forced redundancies.

“We believe there is a real risk of forced retrenchments,” secretary Alex Scott told reporters in Brisbane. He said the job cuts wouldn’t go near easing the state’s $65 billion debt this financial year, but were aimed at funding the LNP’s $4 billion worth of election promises.

“These cuts are cuts the government is choosing to make … not because it has to but because it wants to,” he said. Opposition leader Annastacia Palaszczuk says the government has an obligation to tell Queenslanders how many jobs will be lost across the public service.

Although Mr Newman said before the election the public service had nothing to fear, they actually had everything to fear, she told parliament on Tuesday.

“They have knots in their stomachs, they can’t sleep at night … crying on buses not knowing do they have a job to go to tomorrow,” she said.

“This fear and uncertainty, the climate that this government is creating, is simply not acceptable.”