Essential Energy spent the past days repairing power lines around the region after heavy winds from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald brought down trees and power lines. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Essential Energy spent the past days repairing power lines around the region after heavy winds from ex-tropical cyclone Oswald brought down trees and power lines. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star Marc Stapelberg

Essential Energy workers prepare for strike action

ESSENTIAL Energy workers have voted in favour of industrial action and work bans, in response to a proposed new workplace agreement that would slash 60 jobs on the North Coast.

Electrical Trades Union (ETU) members will be able to go on strike lawfully from early next month after a ballot conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission.

It found 94.8% of workers supported implementing work stoppages of between one and 72 hours in length.

The vote also found that 96.1% endorsed imposing bans on a range of work practices, including overtime, training, paperwork, and the use of computers, mobile phones and other technologies.

The ETU says Essential Energy's proposed workplace agreement could terminate policies covering redundancy provisions, staff redeployments and salary maintenance.

ETU secretary Steve Butler said it would allow the immediate sacking of 800 regional employees, including workers at North Coast depots including Ballina, Ewingsdale, Murwillumbah, Tweed Heads, Casino, Kyogle and Lismore.

"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," Mr Butler said.

"The result of this ballot shows workers simply 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 reverses course and returns to the bargaining table.

"ETU members have made clear with this vote that they won't stand idly by while Essential Energy is gutted."



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