Workers at electricity transmission and distribution company Transgrid began industrial action on 5 January 2024 as Electrical Trades Union (ETU) NSW members push for a 17 per cent pay rise over the next three years.
The members’ efforts included a one-hour stoppage and six indefinite work bans of control room personnel — essential workers at the company’s core.
The ETU released a statement claiming that 83 per cent of Transgrid employees rejected the Transgrid’s proposed enterprise bargaining agreement.
ETU NSW & ACT Secretary Allen Hicks said that the company is “hopelessly out of touch with its workers who are simply seeking a pay rise that helps them keep up with the soaring cost of living.”
“Transgrid’s insulting pay offer has left workers with no choice but to take industrial action that will affect billions of dollars work of crucial renewables and transmission projects,” said Hicks.
The statement released by ETU also assures that the union has “made binding safety commitments which ensure that industrial action will never endanger the public or workers”.
The industrial action will have an ongoing impact on planned maintenance work and power disruptions.
This strike disrupts development on Transgrid’s $2.3 billion renewables project, EnergyConnect, which is a 900-kilometre transmission line that will connect power systems in South Australia and New South Wales — putting additional renewable energy into the National Energy Market.
SafeWork NSW is now investigating the project following recent allegations of major safety breaches, including claims that workers do not have access to restrooms, are using unsafe harnesses, and are at risk of being injured by falling debris.
The apparent safety failure at EnergyConnect, as well as the strike at Transgrid, come as the federal government prepares to fund 32GW of new renewable energy generation in order to achieve a 82 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.
Transgrid has made a statement claiming the company believes the current enterprise agreement is both fair and reasonable, as the proposal includes a 13 per cent increase in wages and superannuation over three years.
Negotiations will recommence on 15 January 2024.