July 18, 2013
The Electrical Trades Union has accused the LNP State Government of “betraying the bush in its rush to privatise the electricity industry”.
The union said Energy Minister Mark McArdle had this week confirmed the worst-kept secret, that more than 1200 jobs had been cut from the State-owned supply companies Ergon (690 jobs), Energex (460) and Powerlink (63) over the past year.
ETU State Organiser Stuart Traill said the figures confirmed what the union had been saying since last year, ie that the State Government was “clearing the decks” in readiness for a “fire sale” of the assets.
In the process, he said, they are leaving regional communities exposed to service cuts and “dangerous neglect”.
The union also rejected an assertion by the Minister that no blue collar jobs have been lost.
“Figures show that more than 40 technical jobs were slashed in Energex and 250 in Ergon, including 70 in cyclone-prone Far North Queensland,” Mr Traill said.
“The more than 1200 jobs does not include the latest proposals to cut hundreds more jobs with the LNPs push to shut down up to 40 regional Ergon depots in the bush and their intention to privatise more than 170 jobs connected to 33 remote power stations up for sale.
“The people of Queensland and in particular the people in regional and remote areas have a right to know, how the loss of frontline staff will affect their service and response times particularly in times of natural disaster?
“We believe it would be dishonest of the government to say it can guarantee the same level of service and we ask which communities will be left isolated due to these irresponsible cuts.”
Mr Traill repeated the union’s vow to “fight for every job” and called on regional communities to stand up and fight back.
“Throw into the mix jobs losses in the South Burnett area following the decisions by government-owned generator Stanwell to slash its Tarong workforce by 120 since October last year and you have a clear picture of a government that doesn’t care about the bush,” he said.
“Every job lost has a knock-on effect: families, schools, hospitals, businesses and social infrastructure are all affected. We ask communities to support the Not4Sale campaign and write to their local MP.”