Coast power workers face pre-Christmas sacking, union warns

THE Electrical Trades Union is warning of potential pre-Christmas Sunshine Coast job losses from power company contractor Ventia after 20 staff were made redundant at Townsville and nine at Rockhampton.

Ventia has not responded to requests for comment. However, the union's Brenton Muller yesterday said he expected redundancies to be announced at Rockhampton today, which they now have.

Mr Muller said he expected more redundancies to be announced for the Sunshine Coast tomorrow, where Ventia employs between 15 and 20 people doing work under contract to Energex and more again on Friday at Brisbane.

Mr Muller said Ventia had blamed an announcement by the Australian Energy Regulator, saying it would reduce funding for the electricity networks, for the redundancies.

However, neither Ergon Energy, which covers Townsville and Rockhampton, nor Energex had said whether the regulator's announcement would impact on their own resource allocations or the work it passed to contractors such as Ventia.

Mr Muller said workers had been told their services were no longer required but they could return with their resumes next week to argue for their jobs.

Based on that, Mr Muller said the union believed the redundancies were "a square-up" for a stoush between the company and the union over Enterprise Bargaining Agreements.

The union had called on Ergon to re-employ the workers dumped at Townsville and Rockhampton, with Mr Muller saying the company currently had 80 vacancies on its books, which it had been "sitting on". However, he said Energex had no equivalent vacancies to absorb any Ventia redundancies on the Coast or in Brisbane.

A spokesman for Ergon Energy confirmed the union had proposed having the company take on workers made redundant by Ventia, but said "Ergon cannot accommodate this request at this time".

"Ergon will continue discussions with unions in relation to future resourcing opportunities and contract management," the spokesman said.

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