Endeavour Energy workers lower pay rise claim

Hundreds of Illawarra workers embroiled in an ongoing industrial dispute with Endeavour Energy have made a last-ditch attempt to avoid strike action, offering to take lower pay rises as long as they can keep their existing work conditions.
Nanjing Night Net

On Tuesday afternoon, the Electrical Trade Union (ETU) told Fairfax thousands of power workers employed across Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy had offered to accept a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise over the next two years.

The workers at the two state-owned companies, which provide power to the Illawarra, South Coast, Sydney, Newcastle and parts of the Central West, originally asked for an annual pay rise of 4 per cent over two years.

In return for the lower wage rise, the union has asked that current job protections, such as a provision for no forced redundancies, are retained for the next two years.

ETU secretary Steve Butler said these conditions were the main concern for workers, who worried their jobs were at risk under the Liberal government’s plans to privatise the state’s poles and wires.

“The union’s revised claim of 2.5 per cent per year means power workers would be treated the same as workers elsewhere in the public government’s privatisation plans,” he said.

“Many power workers fear that without strong job protections, [NSW Premier] 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.”

In mid-2014, Endeavour employed about 500 people to operate the Illawarra network as far south as Ulladulla.

According to the union, there were 373 workers in Wollongong, 65 in Shellharbour and 88 on the South Coast.

Mr Butler said this meant any potential job losses would hit the struggling region hard.

“Job security in areas like the Illawarra is fundamental because there has been a major downturn in a lot of different jobs in the last little while,” he said. “The unemployment figures continue to rise, so if the company moves to privatise the electricity assets, there could be a couple of hundred people who would lose their jobs – and that would affect the region in a really negative way.”

Last week, in a ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, 86 per cent of Endeavour workers voted to support work stoppages if the negotiations over their enterprise agreements continued to fail. More than three-quarters of the company’s workers said they would support strikes, 90 per cent supported work bans and 91 per cent agreed to changed work practices.

Mr Butler said the power workers were “of the view that protected industrial action should only be exercised as an absolute last resort” and would be “considering their options” if their offer was rejected by Endeavour and Ausgrid management.

It is understood industrial action for workers across the electricity network could begin as soon as next week if an agreement is not reached.

The union has asked for a formal company response to its offer by Wednesday afternoon.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.