Essential to vote No

By Melissa Blewitt

Essential Energy workers from Condobolin, Lake Cargelligo, Tottenham and Trundle are being urged to “vote no” in a ballot for a new workplace agreement.
Unions are accusing management at the NSW Government owned electricity distributor of trying to avoid the matter being determined by the independent industrial umpire.
Unions have warned that the management initiated ballot, if successful, would result in a cut to real wages and massive regional job losses. The electronic voting process began on Saturday, 4 June, and closes at 5pm on Thursday, 9 June.
The management proposal offers a single 2.5 per cent pay increase over three years in return for workers agreeing to allow potentially unlimited redundancies, along with cuts to employment conditions, reduced consultation over future changes, and cuts to take home pay.
The Electrical Trades Union, United Services Union and Professional Australia, which represent Essential Energy employees, said the ballot was a last ditch effort by management to avoid having the Fair Work Commission determine the outcome of the long running dispute.
“Last week, the Fair Work Commission triggered a 21 day bargaining period that will be followed by automatic arbitration if no agreement is reached between the company and its employees,” ETU secretary Steve Butler said.
“That decision was welcomed by unions as it potentially takes the decision making process out of management’s hands, allowing for independent assessment of the case by the industrial umpire which would then hand down a binding decision.
“After refusing to budge for 18 months, management has decided to have one final crack at getting their antiworker agenda through in the form of this management initiated ballot.”
USU general secretary Graeme Kelly said power industry unions were urging workers to make sure they vote over the coming days, ensuring a clear rejection of this attempt to cut jobs and employment conditions.
“We are urging our members to make sure that they vote, that they vote no, and that they encourage their colleagues to do the same,” he said.
“We believe it is in the interest of Essential Energy workers to overwhelmingly reject this offer and instead allow the independent umpire to decide the outcome through arbitration.
“In 18 months of negotiations, Essential Energy management have refused to budge on their determination to slash hundreds of regional jobs and cut conditions that were fought for and won by previous generations.
“Essential Energy management, at the bidding of their masters in the Baird Government, continue to push for a workplace arrangement that will allow them to slash regional jobs and cut the quality of services available to power consumers.”

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