ESSENTIAL Energy has applied to the Fair Work Commission to have the Electrical Trades Union’s (ETU’s) planned protected industrial action on Monday suspended in the interests of protecting public safety.
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Acting Chief Executive Officer, Gary Humphreys, said Essential Energy had decided to make the application under theFair Work Act 2009due to the ETU’s failure to provide safety assurances for the protected industrial action period.

“It’s clear the ETU is putting industrial relations strategy and union conditions ahead of the safety of the community,” Gary said.

“I am simply not prepared to put our employees, contractors or the 1,500 local communities we serve across NSW at risk.”

The ETU has given Essential Energy notice that its members plan to take protected industrial action in the form of an 80-hour work stoppage from 10pm Monday, 23 May 2016 through to 6am Friday, 27 May 2016. The union also issued further notices this week proposing a further 30-day protected industrial action period in June.

Essential Energy said the application to suspend the protected industrial action was necessary to protect public safety across regional and rural NSW and ensure the ongoing reliability of the electricity network.

“We expect the Fair Work Commission to hear our application and make a decision by Monday,” Gary said.

“Essential Energy respects the right of ETU members to take protected industrial action, however, we are not willing to compromise safety.”

Essential Energy chief operating officer Gary Humphreys

Essential Energy seeks an Enterprise Agreement that meets the needs of employees, safeguards our excellent safety performance, is modern and flexible, contains costs to customers, and supports the business’ objectives of running a safe, reliable, affordable network.

The business will provide all employees covered by the Essential Energy Enterprise Agreement the opportunity to vote on a replacement agreement via a management-initiated ballot in the next fortnight.

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