Ergon cuts spark power Cairns protest
THE union representing local sparkies has unveiled a billboard on the Bruce Highway slamming Ergon Energy for cutting jobs as the cyclone season approaches and workers are needed more than ever.
But the Electrical Trades Union has come under fire itself from the State Government for keeping quiet on the Federal Government's Energy White Paper, which was released yesterday.
Stuart Traill, the ETU's Far Northern organiser, said redundancies at Ergon would make it impossible for crews to fix defects in the power grid in the short time frames stipulated in government legislation.
"These redundancies are already having an impact on the depots, on the staff and on their ability to inspect and fix power lines and defects," Mr Traill said.
"We don't want to go back to the bad old days of 15 years ago in the Far North when lights would go out because there wasn't adequate resources."
The Cairns Post reported last month the Far North would lose up to 30 frontline field workers in the Ergon cuts, as well as eight apprentice positions and vacant positions that won't be refilled.
The billboard unveiled yesterday attacks local state LNP MPs Gavin King, Michael Trout and David Kempton for supporting Ergon's job cuts.
Mr Traill believes the instruction to cut jobs at Ergon came from the Newman Government, even though there's no room to cut back on staff.
But Mr King yesterday criticised the ETU for bashing certain agendas while going easy on others belonging to "its Labor mates in Canberra".
Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson yesterday released the Government's Energy White Paper, which calls on the State Governments to co-operate with the Commonwealth as reforms to energy provision and pricing take place.
Mr King believes the recommendations of the White Paper would lead to the sale of government-owned power companies, which would defy previous campaigns by the ETU to protect public assets.
"Yet, the Electrical Trades Union which has been running a campaign against electricity privatisation is silent on what its Labor mates in Canberra are saying in the White Paper," Mr King said.
"The ETU need to be honest about their position and condemn Labor for its privatisation campaign," he said.
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Anger: The ETU billboard at Gordonvale.