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September 20, 2021

Essential Energy 80-hour strike averted

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The Fair Work Commission yesterday terminated the Electrical Trades Union’s (ETU’s) planned protected industrial action in regional NSW, including the north coast.

Essential Energy successfully argued the proposed work stoppages would threaten public safety and network reliability.

The ETU had planned to take protected industrial action from 10pm last night (May 23) through to 6am Friday (May 27) and had issued further notices proposing a further 30-day protected industrial action period in June.

Essential Energy has been in negotiations with unions for more than 12 months over a replacement Enterprise Agreement.

Acting CEO Gary Humphreys, said the company had taken the union to court over the action because it had failed to provide for emergencies during the stoppage.

‘Essential Energy will always put the safety of our employees, contractors and the public above anything else so we are pleased that the Fair Work Commission has shut down the protected industrial action proposed by the ETU,’ Mr Humphreys said.

‘Today’s decision will reassure regional and rural communities across NSW that the electricity distribution network can continue to operate safely and reliably,’ he added.

But the union is upbeat about the decision, saying in a bulletin to members it ‘automatically triggers a 21-day bargaining period after which if the parties have not reached agreement the matter will proceed to arbitration allowing the independent umpire to decide all matters.’

‘Today’s outcome places ETU members in the best position to achieve the best possible outcome by allowing the independent umpire to make a ruling if agreement cannot be reached.

‘This does not mean that there will not be forced redundancies, but it does mean that the ETU, on behalf of our members, will get to put our case to the independent umpire and potentially take any decision out of Essential Energy’s hands,’ the bulletin read.

Essential Energy’s application to prevent the ETU’s protected industrial action was heard over six hours before senior deputy president Hamberger in the Fair Work Commission.

 


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