The Electrical Trades Union is today appearing before the Fair Work Commission to argue against the introduction of policies by publicly-owned power companies Ausgrid and Essential Energy that would allow them to forcibly sack 2,500 workers across NSW.
FWC president Justice Ian Ross, who is presiding over the hearing, will determine whether the ETU and other unions have grounds to take the matter to the Federal Court to seek a binding interpretation of key components of the current enterprise agreement.
The union said the outcome of today’s hearing would determine the course of subsequent legal action, but that it was just one of many steps that are being taken to try to stop what will be devastating job cuts across NSW.
ETU deputy secretary Neville Betts said the union met with Premier Mike Baird in June, as well as presenting a range of alternative options to management at both of the companies, in an attempt to minimise the need for any job losses.
“Power sector unions seem to be the only people interested in future-proofing our electricity network by retaining specialised, highly-skilled electricity jobs across NSW,” Mr Betts said.
“The ETU has presented a range of alternatives to the proposed mass sackings, including job sharing, roster changes, voluntary redundancy mix and match programs and expansion of the businesses into ‘non-regulated’ revenue areas.
“To date, management have rejected the proposals put forward by the unions while the Premier told representatives from the ETU in June that the Government would not expand these businesses in order to keep people employed.
“We believe it is every member of parliament’s responsibility to ensure these public companies at least consider every available option to minimise jobs losses, particularly in regional NSW.
“It is disappointing that we have been forced to take costly legal action in order to protect jobs while management, presumably supported by the government, argue in favour of sacking 2,500 workers.”