The Electrical Trades Union is calling on Essential Energy acting chief executive officer Gary Humphreys to resign after he suggested workers at the company of putting the lives and safety of community members at risk by taking industrial action.
Mr Humphreys publicly accused workers of having "a complete disregard for safety, network reliability and customers, including the many life support customers on Essential Energy's network".
His statements followed the notification of a planned 80-hour strike, commencing at 10pm on Monday 23 May, despite the ETU providing almost two weeks notice — more than was legally required.
ETU NSW secretary Steve Butler said Essential Energy management had the legal responsibility for guaranteeing power supply to the community during the strike and that the union had provided ample time for the company to meet their legal obligations.
“Essential Energy’s acting CEO has not only delivered an unfounded attack on his own workforce, but he has demonstrated that he doesn’t even understand his legal obligations,” Mr Butler said
“The safe operation of Essential Energy’s network — including during a period of protected industrial action — is the legal responsibility of the company, and their owner the NSW Government.
“Gary Humphries doesn’t get paid more than half a million dollars a year to sit around blaming others, he has a responsibility under law to guarantee the safe operation of Essential Energy’s electricity network and that is what the public expects.
“If Gary Humphreys is incapable of meeting his legal obligation to guarantee a safe, reliable supply for Essential Energy customers, he should resign immediately.”
Mr Butler said that the action being undertaken by ETU members at Essential Energy was legally protected and has been approved by the courts.
“The planned 80-hour stoppage has been approved by the courts and is 100 per cent lawful,” he said.
"The ETU has made several concessions, including an offer to allow the independent Fair Work Commission to determine this matter once and for all.
“The fact remains that the NSW Government or Essential Energy could resolve this matter today if they wanted to and the planned strike could be averted.
“Management and the NSW Government have options available to them to resolve this dispute but both refuse to act.
“Rain, hail or shine, ETU members at Essential Energy will not be at work for a continuous period of 80 hours commencing at 10pm on Monday 23 May — unless this dispute is resolved or we are instructed to work against our will by a court of law.”