Power industry unions yesterday wrote to NSW Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian seeking an urgent meeting regarding employment protections for workers at Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy, and TransGrid
The unions threatened to lodge a dispute in the Fair Work Commission, arguing that the NSW Government has breached existing workplace agreements by failing to consult with workers.
The moves follow the introduction of legislation for the privatisation of the three publicly-owned network businesses by Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday.
The Electrical Trade Union and United Services Union, which represent workers at the electricity network companies, fear that without proper employment protections in place, private owners will slash jobs, apprentice numbers, close down depots and offices and contract out other services.
Unions are seeking the urgent meeting with the Treasurer in addition to a meeting already scheduled between the ETU and the Premier next Monday to discuss the impact of the recent Australian Energy Regulator determination.
ETU secretary Steve Butler said the Baird Government needed to honour pre-election promises to consult with workers and ensure appropriate employment protections were put in place prior to any legislation passing through the parliament.
“Before the election, Mike Baird told the people of NSW that he would put protections in place to ensure a new owner didn’t slash local jobs, as occurred in Victoria when that state privatised electricity assets,” Mr Butler said.
“Previous NSW privatisations, whether done under Labor or the Liberals, have seen appropriate employment protections put in place prior to legislation passing the parliament to provide certainty for workers, continuity of apprentice and training programs, and to maintain service standards.
“It is extremely concerning that the NSW Government have decided to jump the gun, tabling legislation ahead of The Hon. Fred Nile’s parliamentary inquiry handing down its findings or any consultation occurring with workers and their unions.”
USU energy manager Scott McNamara said there was an urgent need for the NSW Government to provide details of the jobs package that would be put in place.
“Beyond any political promises made before the election, the NSW Government has a legal obligation to consult with the workforce of these publicly-owned businesses ahead of their partial or majority sale to a private owner,” Mr McNamara said.
“Workers are justifiably concerned that a potential owner, whether based interstate or overseas, would seek to slash local jobs and cut back conditions.
“The Premier must ensure that as he presses ahead with his privatisation plan he honours the promises that he made to the public and industry workers ahead of the election.”