Ergon workers in Bundaberg walked off the job in response to the company's plans to axe front line jobs in the region and across the state. This follows a similar walkout in Atherton on January 15 over the same issue.
Electricians and linesmen from the Bundaberg depot walked off the job on January 20 in response to the company's decision to outsource more work at the expense of permanent frontline positions.
Electrical Trades Union (ETU) organiser Dan Bessell said management's actions were becoming increasingly dangerous, with the company already cutting crucial maintenance programs due to existing frontline job vacancies.
“It's getting dangerous,” he said. “We've got power poles and cross arms rotting through and failing thanks to extended inspection cycles, as well as important network hardware failing right across the state.
“Instead of dealing with the problem through a well-planned maintenance program supported by adequate internal staffing, Ergon's answer seems to be to slow the flow of work down even further and use that as justification to close out frontline jobs.
“They are proposing to cut 13 field-based jobs in the Fraser Burnett region. These are frontline jobs that should be employed locally to ensure there is sufficient maintenance and local resources when we get hit with major storm events.”
The union has called on the state government to intervene and ensure no further frontline jobs are cut.
“If this government is serious about its pre-election commitment to frontline jobs and rural Queensland then they should step in, see what's happening up here and direct Ergon to maintain frontline staff and vital services,” Bessell said.
“If management's answer to a failing network is to do less maintenance and get rid of frontline jobs, I think we have the wrong people in these positions. Ergon staff and the people of Queensland deserve better.
“We are in the middle of storm season. Fraser Burnett residents remember all too well how valuable these workers were to their community following the devastating floods of 2011 and 2013. We can't afford to allow these cuts to happen.”