Strike averted: Essential Energy saved by FWC

by Victoria Bruce24 May 2016
The Fair Work Commission has called a stop to 80 hours of protected industrial action by Essential Energy workers after the energy provider lodged a last minute appeal, saying the strike could threaten public safety.

After a six-hour hearing on Monday, the FWC decided to call off the Electrical Trade Union’s planned industrial action after Essential Energy successfully argued the proposed work stoppages would threaten public safety and network reliability.

 Acting Chief Executive Officer, Gary Humphreys, said: “Essential Energy will always put the safety of our employees, contractors and the public above anything else so we are pleased that the Fair Work Commission has shut down the protected industrial action proposed by the ETU,”

“Today’s decision will reassure regional and rural communities across NSW that the electricity distribution network can continue to operate safely and reliably.”

The strike action had been planned to take effect from 10 pm last night Monday, 23 May 2016 through to 6am Friday, 27 May 2016 and the ETU had issued further notices proposing a further 30-day protected industrial action period in June.

Essential Energy’s application to prevent the ETU’s protected industrial action was heard over six hours before Senior Deputy President Hamberger in the Fair Work Commission today.

The state-owned company has been in discussions with staff and unions for more than 12 months over a replacement Enterprise Agreement, and in June last year announced plans to slash hundreds of jobs.

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.

And while thousands of staff will be required to front up for work in light of the FWC decision to stop the planned strike action, Essential Energy faces the task of resuming enterprise bargaining negotiations.

“The Fair Work Commission decision has just been announced. Essential Energy will now consider the implications and most appropriate next steps in these long-running negotiations,” Humphreys said in his statement.

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