Breaking: Essential Energy staff vote on strike action

by Victoria Bruce29 Mar 2016
Staff at Essential Energy will go on strike next month in protest amid an ongoing industrial dispute against the state-owned enterprise.

An overwhelming number of Essential Energy workers voted in support of industrial action and other work bans, in response to their employer’s plans to axe up to 800 jobs plus terminate its current workplace agreement.

Now staff at the publicly-owned electricity network company will be able to lawfully take place in strikes and stoppages from early next month.

The Australian Electoral Commission conducted the ballot, which closed on March 22, and found 94.8 per cent of Electrical Trades Union members were in support of stopping work between one and 72 hours in length.

A further 96.1 per cent of workers supported imposing bans on a range of work practices, including the use of computers, mobile phones and other technologies, overtime, training and paperwork.

In June 2015 the NSW Government-owned company announced plans that it would make hundreds of positions redundant, and ABC reports say Essential Energy will try to axe up to 800 jobs within the next two years.

Essential Energy made the redundancy announcement after the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) reduced the amount of money the company can recover from consumers.

Now the embattled electricity infrastructure company is seeking to terminate a range of agreements and policies, including redundancy provisions, staff redeployments, and salary maintenance, impacting on thousands of employees across the state.

The new workplace agreement proposed by the company would permit the immediate sacking of 800 regional employees, and allow an unlimited number of job cuts after June 2018.

ETU secretary Steve Butler accused Essential Energy management of treating their loyal workforce with complete contempt.

"This is the first time a publicly-owned company has attempted to rip up their own workplace agreement, which had been negotiated in good faith by their workforce, using it as a tool to threaten massive cuts to wages, conditions and jobs," Butler told the Wellington Times.

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