Electrical Trades Union delegate, Dan Bessell.
Electrical Trades Union delegate, Dan Bessell. Che Chapman

ETU set for industrial action in Unitywater dispute

UNITYWATER electrical staff will begin protected industrial action on Thursday in what is expected to be a protracted battle over pay and conditions.

Electrical Trade Union members will refuse to assist contractors they say are being brought in by the water utility to eventually take their jobs.

ETU delegate Dan Bessell said Unitywater's management was locked in by a promise to reduce water bills by $100.

"The best idea to achieve that they've come up with is to take their workers' conditions of employment.''

Mr Bessell said members had calculated they would be up to $10,000 worse off if a new award structure proposed by Unitywater was adopted.

A Unitywater spokesperson said the ETU's log of claims would increase labour costs by over $40,000 per employee.

"We are still negotiating,'' he said. "There is no offer to date. There is no existing agreement. Unitywater is seeking to negotiate its first enterprise agreement in the Federal jurisdiction."

Thursday's industrial action will also involve ETU members refusing to fill in detail of completed job orders. They will take the order, do the work but not submit completion forms.

ETU members at Unitywater's Maroochydore depot were told Tuesday morning they must return cars to the depot and leave computers at work at the end of each shift.

Unitywater said the intent was "to improve its operational practices and deliver better customer outcomes".

Members will stop work twice for two hours on Friday and stop work for four hours the following week. ETU officials will meet Unitywater management for talks on May 26.

Mr Bessell said rather than using the existing agreement as a starting point Unitywater was attempting to attack worker conditions as it takes the business towards a "contract out" model.

Unitywater denied the allegation saying it was not moving in that direction.

Mr Bessell said Unitywater was coming after the rostered day off the current agreement allows every fortnight. He said the company had declared the old EBA as null and void and drafted a replacement which stripped conditions out.

"It's neither worker nor family friendly,'' Mr Bessell said.

Unitywater said it would take appropriate measures to ensure provision of services to customers in a safe and reliable way while the dispute was on.

The company has denied as "totally inaccurate and untrue" ETU claims Unitywater CEO George Theo had told staff if they failed to accept reduced conditions of employment their jobs would be contracted out within three years

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