Electrical Trades Union members employed at Essential Energy have voted overwhelmingly in support of industrial action and other work bans, with stoppages at the publicly-owned electricity network company now able to lawfully take place from early next month.
The ballot, conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, found 94.8 per cent supported implementing work stoppages of between one and 72 hours in length, while 96.1 per cent endorsed imposing bans on a range of work practices, including overtime, training, paperwork, and the use of computers, mobile phones and other technologies.
The vote came as the NSW Government-owned company is undertaking an unprecedented legal attack on workers, seeking to terminate a range of agreements and policies.
If successful, the case could terminate policies covering redundancy provisions, staff redeployments, and salary maintenance, stripping away wages and conditions from thousands of employees across the state.
The company has also proposed a new workplace agreement that would allow the immediate sacking of 800 regional employees, as well as 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.
“Essential Energy management are holding a gun to the head of their entire workforce, telling them to voluntarily accept cuts to their pay and conditions or face an unprecedented legal move that would see workplace agreements and policies simply torn up,” he said.
“The result of this ballot shows workers won’t accept that kind of treatment, and they are ready and willing to take industrial action and other forms of protest until Essential Energy starts to bargain in good faith by considering the needs of their workforce.
“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, using it as a tool to threaten massive cuts to wages, conditions and jobs.”
Mr Butler said the company was refusing to budge from their proposal that staff accept a two-year wage freeze, a ban on redundant employees applying for other jobs with the company for two years, a halving of the payment when workers are called in from home to emergencies, and the removal of requirements for private contractors conducting outsourced work to pay appropriate wages and conditions.
“Liberal and National Party MPs should hang their heads in shame,” he said.