Power workers employed by Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy have offered to accept a 2.5 per cent pay rise in return for retaining existing job protection provisions in a final attempt to avert industrial action at the NSW Government owned electricity network companies.
The Electrical Trades Union yesterday wrote to management outlining a compromise position in a final attempt to resolve the dispute following an overwhelming vote by workers at both companies in support of industrial action.
The union’s proposal includes pay rises of 2.5 per cent a year over two years. It also involves a roll over of the existing enterprise agreements, which expired in December, maintaining existing conditions and job protections, including a provision for no forced redundancies.
The agreements cover thousands of workers who operate and maintain the electricity network in Sydney, the Hunter Valley, Newcastle, the Central Coast, Wollongong, the Illawarra, Blue Mountains and parts of the Central West.
ETU secretary Steve Butler said the primary concern for power workers had always been job security in light of the Liberal and National plans to privatise the electricity network, likely seeing it taken over by foreign owners.
“This offer has been made in good faith in a final attempt to resolve the impasse and avoid industrial action,” Mr Butler said.
"The unions revised claim of 2.5 per cent per year means power workers would be treated the same as workers elsewhere in the public sector, delivering necessary job protections in the face of the government’s privatisation plans.
“It will also roll over the current workplace agreement, which management agreed to just two years ago, ensuring existing rights and protections are maintained.”
Mr Butler said the ball was now in Premier Mike Baird’s court.
“If the NSW Government are not prepared to agree to a proposal that matches their wage policy while also protecting local jobs, the public can only conclude that they have plans to sack thousands of staff as part of the Liberal and National Party’s electricity privatisation plans,” he said.
“Many power workers fear that without strong job protections, Mike Baird will look to slash a large part of the workforce to fatten up profits and increase the amount of money the government can get from their privatisation plan.
“This is the choice for Mike Baird and his government: will you put thousand of jobs at risk in pursuit of privatisation, or will you stand up to protect local jobs?
“When I met with the Premier last year he said that he would guarantee jobs. This is his chance to deliver.”
The union said that workers had shown once again their desire to settle the negotiations in good faith, providing a final opportunity for the NSW Government to reach a fair agreement that would also avert possible industrial action.
“Power workers are absolutely genuine in their desire to settle these negotiations,” Mr Butler said.
“If Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and the government choose not to accept this fair offer then we will know that they are more interested in having a fight with workers in the lead up to the state election than in providing certainty for the people of NSW.”