The ETU will today appear before the Fair Work Commission to argue against publicly owned power companies Ausgrid and Essential Energy introducing policies that would allow them to forcibly sack 2,500 workers from across NSW.
The hearing, being presided over by Fair Work Commission Vice President Hatcher, will hear arguments from Ausgrid and Essential Energy on why they believe they should be allowed to introduce forced sackings which the unions say is in breach of current employment contracts.
Today’s hearing is likely to be the first of many as the union fights to stop proposed mass sackings. A decision on whether Ausgrid and Essential Energy can change their current redundancy policy is likely to be handed down sometime over the coming weeks.
ETU Deputy Secretary Neville Betts said the ETU will be arguing in the strongest possible terms against the validity of Ausgrid and Essential Energy’s determined push to introduce forced sackings.
“We believe that plans to introduce involuntary redundancy by Ausgrid and Essential Energy is in breach of their existing workplace agreement.” Mr Betts said
“These companies, presumably supported by the NSW Government, are using tax payer’s money to hire expensive lawyers with the sole purpose of sacking thousands of front line power workers from across the state.”
“If Ausgrid and Essential Energy are successful in their bid to axe these highly skilled essential service jobs, hundreds of local communities will be devastated socially and economically in what can only be explained as avoidable job losses.” said Mr Betts
“The ETU has presented alternatives to the proposed mass sackings including job sharing, roster changes, voluntary redundancy mix and match programs and expansion of these businesses into “non-regulated” revenue areas but management and politicians alike are not interested.”
“The ETU wrote to almost every member of state parliament seeking support to minimise local job losses through an alternative plan, less than a dozen responded and only two took the time to meet with union representatives.”
“Clearly the only jobs that management and MP’s appear to be interested in are their own, otherwise there would be a concerted effort by all parties to implement every measure possible to save jobs.” Mr Betts said
“We have been in negotiations with Ausgrid and Essential Energy for many months seeking a new workplace agreement and the retention of a no forced redundancy policy has formed one of the fundamental claims of workers.”
“There is a clear process when it comes to bargaining and we are of the opinion that the existing agreement remains in force until such time as a new agreement is voted on and accepted by the workforce.” Mr Betts said
“This as an extremely important matter not only for those workers affected but also for hundreds of communities across NSW who will be forced to deal with the impact of local job losses, which once lost will never be replaced.” finished Mr Betts
If Ausgrid and Essential Energy are successful in their push to introduce a forced redundancy policy 2,500 workers from across regional NSW, the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, Central Coast and parts of Sydney will face the sack just weeks before Christmas.