Power workers employed by publicly owned electricity companies Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy have been bargaining over a new employment agreement for six months with the aim of securing improved job security, no loss of conditions and a fair pay increase.
Steve Butler, Secretary of the Electrical Trades Union said today’s attack on power workers demonstrates that the NSW Government is more interested in cheap political point scoring than negotiating a fair outcome.
More than 8,000 Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy workers face uncertain times ahead of the Baird Governments electricity privatisation plans should they win the March election.
“Today the NSW Government has chosen to attack frontline power workers and their employment conditions in an attempt to score cheap political points rather than resolving the issue by offering a fair outcome including job protections.” said Mr Butler.
“Power workers are facing an uncertain future as a result of the Baird Government electricity privatisation plans with Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy saying that they intend to sack more than three thousand workers in the immediate future.”
“All these workers want is a fair and reasonable outcome with secure ongoing employment but right now the Government and management are being anything but fair and reasonable.” Mr Butler said.
“The cost of living is increasing at a rate of 2.5% per annum and we do not believe our claim of a 4% pay rise is unreasonable but we are also realistic and prepared to negotiate a fair outcome,” said Mr Butler.
“Power workers in NSW perform highly skilled and dangerous work often in treacherous conditions to make sure the public have a reliable and safe electricity supply,” Mr Butler said.
“Because of the dangerous and technical nature of the work power workers are required to maintain a high standard of qualification which includes passing a technical electrical safety rules exam every year.”
“For this reason workers who are required to pass annual electrical safety rules tests including linesmen, cable jointers and operators receive an allowance to help them maintain these necessary qualifications.” said Mr Butler.
“Most industries that have highly trained professionals that are expected to maintain a license or qualification receive some sort of allowance and the power industry is no different.”
“Other allowances such as dirt allowance, meal allowance and hazardous or offensive materials allowance are not paid to all workers and are only paid in rare circumstances when extreme working conditions exist.” Mr Butler said.
“When compared to other states including Victoria, power workers in NSW are paid comparable rates including allowances for specific and extraordinary circumstances.”
“Given the technical nature of the work and dangerous conditions that power workers face on a daily basis they receive modest pay and allowances.” Mr Butler said.
“To say power workers are overpaid is a joke particularly when some politicians receive tax payer funded allowances of more than $130,000 per year on top of their $249,000 salary not to mention their chauffer driven limousines.”
“Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy or the government could resolve this matter today but they would prefer to attack frontline workers that serve the public rain, hail or shine.” Mr Butler finished.