Posted on 10-5-2016
Workers at NSW Government-owned electricity distributor Essential Energy will walk off the job for 24 hours on Wednesday after the company refused to allow the independent industrial umpire to resolve a long-running dispute over wages, conditions and job cuts.
Employees from more than 100 workplaces and depots across the state will take part in the strike action from 6am on Wednesday 11 May, returning to work from 6am on Thursday 12 May.
Negotiations for a new workplace agreement began 18 months ago, with the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) offering a range of concession to Essential Energy management in an attempt to reach an agreement.
Instead, the company has refused those offers, rejected a request to have the Fair Work Commission decide the outstanding matters, and launched unprecedented legal action that seeks to cut the wages and conditions of thousands of employees by tearing up the existing workplace agreement.
ETU NSW secretary Steve Butler said workers have been left with no choice but to take part in a 24 hour statewide strike.
“Our members have done everything possible to resolve this dispute without the need to impact on the community service they provide, but management’s refusal to budge has left them no choice but to take strike action,” Mr Butler said.
“The ETU has made a range of generous concessions to the company on behalf of our members, including an offer to have the outstanding matters decided by the independent industrial umpire, but the company has rejected these efforts outright.
“As a result, ETU members employed at more than 100 workplaces across NSW will strike for 24 hours from 6am on Wednesday.
“Protected industrial action, is always a last resort, but when management not only refuses to negotiate, but won’t even allow the independent umpire to intervene, there is no other option available to us.
“If Essential Energy is successful in cancelling the current agreement, 800 regional jobs will be slashed overnight, wages and conditions will be cut, and consumers across rural and regional NSW will be left with lower service standards.
“Before the last election, Liberal and National MPs said there would be no cut to jobs or services, but for the last year they have remained silent as Essential Energy has done the exact opposite.
“If Essential Energy are not prepared to offer a fair and reasonable outcome it is likely that this dispute will continue to escalate with even longer strikes on the cards.”
Coverage will be available in the event of an emergency during the 24 hour strike period.