ETU cries foul over offer costing workers $10,000 a year

MORE than 100 Electrical Trade Union (ETU) members in the Ipswich area have offered to take a pay freeze but are angry about a counter offer that will see them lose more than $10,000 annually.

That is the word from ETU organiser Stuart Traill, who said that Energex, Powerlink and Ergon had placed a "sub-standard" enterprise bargaining agreement offer on the table.

The current offers to Ergon, Energex and Powerlink workers include a one-off offer of employment security to existing employees for the life of the new three-year agreement and a wage increase of 2.75% per year.

But Mr Trail said the offer would make members - 134 of whom work for Energex in Raceview, Esk and Gatton - far worse off

"The government has tried to take away many conditions out of our agreement despite us offering a 0% rollover agreement, so keeping the same agreement with all the same wages and conditions and our members copping a wage freeze," Mr Traill said.

"That wasn't good enough for them, so now they offered an agreement that will take significant amounts of money out of our members' pockets. We are talking upwards of $10,000 a year."

Treasurer Tim Nicholls said Mr Traill's claims are wrong and simply shows the ETU's own political agenda," he said.

"This is more about the union bosses than it is about the members who've been offered three years job security and a 2.75 % pay rise."

Mr Traill said the wage offer by the ETU members to accept a wage freeze was done in good faith.

"That was difficult to get across the line in the meetings, as you can imagine," he said.

"But our members thought that it would put us in good stead with the community because they are hurting from the increases in electricity prices and it would also nullify Energex's argument that our wage increases are forcing up electricity prices.

"But Energex have gone down this path of pushing a non-agreed document out to a vote.

"Predictions are that they are going to get a very clear 'no' from employees."

An Energex spokesman said "Energex is unclear where claims of substantial earnings reductions as part of the proposed agreement come from and the union has not provided any information to validate that sort of claim during the lengthy negotiation period".

"We would challenge the union to justify those calculations. The offer provided to all staff actually includes a 2.75% annual pay increase, employment security and maintenance of favourable working conditions, as well as vital business reform to ensure Energex's ongoing success.

"The ETU does not represent all staff in the business and Energex's offer takes into consideration all areas within the company."

Powerlink's acting CEO Maurie Brennan said the company's proposed employment agreement "provides employment security and certainty for staff for at least the next three years. It also provides for real wages growth".

"The proposed enterprise agreement provides a fair outcome for our employees, our business and Queensland electricity consumers," he said.


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