ETU Media Releases

ETU Media Releases

For media enquiries please contact George Houssos on 0418 655 682 or Tim Vollmer on 0404 273 313

Dubbo: Troy Grant must intervene to save jobs and services following revelation of Essential Energy closure plan

Paul Lister - Monday, February 19, 2018

The Electrical Trades Union has called on Dubbo MP Troy Grant to urgently intervene following revelations that Essential Energy plans to close a warehouse that provides materials for maintenance and repairs to the electricity network across a large part of the state.

The Essential Energy warehouse in Hawthorn Street, Dubbo could be closed in as little as four weeks, resulting in six local jobs being lost and requiring electrical equipment to be shipped from either Wagga Wagga or Grafton when needed in an emergency.

The union said the Dubbo warehouse is responsible for providing items to Essential Energy depots across a large part of the state, including: Bathurst, Blayney, Broken Hill, Bourke, Canowindra, Cobar, Condobolin, Coonamble, Cowra, Forbes, Gilgandra, Lake Cargelligo, Molong, Narromine, Nyngan, Oberon, Orange, Tottenham, Walgett, Warren, West Wyalong, Wilcannia, and Young.

ETU assistant secretary Justin Page said that National Party MPs promised to save Essential Energy ahead of the 2015 election, but had repeatedly failed to live up to that commitment.

“Far from saving Essential Energy, National Party MPs across the state have stood by while 2,000 regional jobs were slashed and more than 100 depots and workplaces were closed down,” Mr Page said.

“Dubbo MP Troy Grant and National Party leader John Barilaro need to stand up to their Liberal Party masters in Macquarie Street and tell them that regional NSW will not suffer any further cuts to essential services.

“On average, people in regional NSW are waiting up to three times longer to have their power restored following a blackout, yet the NSW Government’s only response is to allow yet another vital facility to be closed down.”

Mr Page said there was no question regional power users — who already pay much higher prices for electricity — would be left worse off following the closure of the Dubbo warehouse.

“This warehouse is one of only three similar facilities run by Essential Energy, and as well as managing the materials needed for ongoing maintenance and repairs it plays a vital role during emergencies,” he said.

“When bushfires or storms cause widespread damage to the electrical network across large parts of NSW, it is the centrally located Dubbo warehouse that ensures the materials that are needed to get the lights back on are delivered quickly to the areas in need.

“Troy Grant and John Barilaro need to stop the death by a thousand cuts that Essential Energy has been suffering during the past three years and instead ensure that service standards and quality jobs are protected for the sake of everyone living in regional NSW.

“The promise that they would save Essential Energy needs to be turned into genuine actions, which requires the National Party to stand up to the Berejiklian Government, say enough is enough, and demand an end to the closures of facilities and cutting of jobs in regional NSW.”

Ombudsman reveals leap in complaints from NSW consumers as power prices surge and service levels drop

Paul Lister - Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rising power prices and poor service from the privatised electricity sector has resulted in a surge of customer complaints, according to new data from the Energy & Water Ombudsman NSW.

According to the EWON quarterly activity report, in the last three months of 2017 NSW electricity users made a total of 5,283 complaints regarding electricity services, a jump of more than 25 per cent from the 4,100 that were received during the same quarter the year before.

Driving this rise was a 42.7 per cent leap in complaints about high power bills, while total complaints against electricity retailers climbed 28.9 per cent and failings by electricity distributors were up 10.5 per cent.

The Electrical Trades Union said the data highlighted the ongoing failure of the Liberal National Government’s privatisation policies.

“The Liberal and National Parties went to an election promising that consumers would be better off if the State’s electricity sector was privatised,” ETU secretary Dave McKinley said.

“Instead, we’ve seen more than 2000 jobs — many in regional areas — slashed by the new private owners.

“The result of this loss of skilled workers has been a reduction in service standards, less resources for maintenance, and slower response times to major outages and emergencies.

“At the same time power prices have surged, delivering private owners massive profits while consumers are paying much more money for a poorer quality service.”

Mr McKinley said the union was unsurprised by the data, saying it aligned with the experiences in Victoria and South Australia following privatisation of electricity services in those states.

“The fact that complaints have leapt in NSW is no surprise to anyone who has experienced power privatisation in other parts of the country,” he said.

“For all the promises of better services and lower prices, private owners of power assets have shown they are much more interested in increasing profits by slashing jobs and reducing services, rather than maintaining the electricity network as an essential service.

“Unfortunately, we expect the situation will continue to get worse, with these private operators continuing to slash staff, cut costs, and increase prices — all with the blessing of the Australian Energy Regulator.

“The only way to solve the problem of skyrocketing bills and falling service levels is to return the electricity supply chain to public ownership, where reliability and service levels can be prioritised over profits.”

Industrial action postponed at nation’s largest electricity distributor after conditional in-principle agreement reached

Paul Lister - Thursday, February 01, 2018

Planned industrial action by workers at Ausgrid, the nation’s largest electricity distributor has been put on hold after more than 100 workplace delegates this afternoon gave their conditional support to a workplace agreement that will deliver wage rises to staff for the first time in four years.

The development follows a vote last month where thousands of union members employed at Ausgrid, which owns and operates the electricity poles and wires that deliver power across Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Hunter, overwhelmingly supported imposing work stoppages, bans and other industrial actions unless a new wage deal was struck.

Today’s meeting examined a revised offer by Ausgrid management that includes pay increases of 2.75 per cent, 2.5 per cent, and 2.25 per cent over the next three years, along with a $1,600 cash bonus for each employee, and protection against forced redundancies in line with the NSW Government’s privatisation employment protections.

The Electrical Trades Union said workers at the company, which is jointly owned by the NSW Government, Australian Super and IFM Investors, have endured a wage freeze since 2014, along with the loss of almost 2000 skilled jobs during the same time period.

“Union delegates representing their co-workers across the network this afternoon voted to provide their conditional support to key elements of Ausgrid’s offer,” ETU secretary Dave McKinley.

“The agreement is subject to further negotiations and improvements to agreement wording.”

“After four years of failed negotiations, the loss of approximately a third of the workforce, and a freeze on wages, the ETU is optimistic that full agreement may now be possible once members have had the opportunity to vote on a final offer.

“Industrial action has always been a last resort, and it is disappointing that it took the threat of major customer disruptions to finally get Ausgrid management to come to the negotiating table with a half decent offer for members to consider.”

“There is more work to do however negotiations now appear to be heading the right direction.”