'With electricity prices skyrocketing and reliability decreasing' privatisation fails the people.
The Electrical Trades Union NSW Branch Biennial Conference was the launching pad for a significant campaign to Stop the Sell Off of the State’s electrical and rail networks.
At the NSW Branch Conference in Wollongong on February 19, ETU NSW State Secretary Justin Page shared the stage with State Labor leader Michael Daley to launch the fight against more privatisation.
The campaign draws a line in the sand on selling off public assets, warning that more privatisation will only mean higher prices and reduced reliability.
“Privatisation has failed the people of NSW, with electricity prices skyrocketing and reliability decreasing,” the NSW Secretary said.
“For our members it’s seen a decrease in jobs, a decrease in job security and wage stagnation over four years. Our fundamental conditions of employment have been seriously affected.”
Daley backed the fight, telling the conference Labor “will not sell one single more pole or wire”.
“You know what the Liberals do best – or worst – they sell things,” he said.
“And if they get in they’ll want to sell water, hospitals, rail, busses, and they’ll have another go at the 49% of electricity that the people of NSW still own.
“It’s not acceptable. And if I become the premier, no way – no more privatisations, no more sell-offs.”
In 2015 the Liberal-National Government sold Transgrid and half of the distributors Ausgrid and Endeavour Energy. The ETU’s powerful campaigning at that time saved Essential Energy which remains 100% publicly-owned today.
But the Liberal and National Parties will seek to sell any and all remaining public assets if re-elected on 23 March and Transport Minister Andrew Constance has vowed to privatise all commuter transport within 10-15 years.
Stop the Sell Off now needs ETU members and supporters to get active on the ground from now right up to the 23 March election.
The Opposition Leader also pledged to invest $11 million to train and accredit 4500 electricians to install new renewable energy infrastructure across the state.
This came in addition to the 13,485 jobs a NSW Labor Government will create as a direct result of the solar energy plan and the 1GW state-owned renewable power company.
NSW Construction Crew launch EBA campaign
Electrical workers in the state’s construction industry are campaigning hard to win union enterprise agreements, organiser Fred Barbin told ETU Biennial Conference.
Barbin said a powerful ETU organising drive launched in 2018 has built union membership at key companies and projects.
That has laid the groundwork for the next stage: negotiating EBAs at more than 50 contractors.
The ETU’s EBA campaign will target improved wages and conditions, apprentice rights and site safety.
Conference Delegates gave a standing ovation to the NSW Construction Team in recognition of their great efforts building union strength over the past year.
Turning a new Page in NSW
ETU NSW Secretary Justin Page opened the union’s Biennial Conference with a rousing call to change governments to Change the Rules.
Delegates from all industries across NSW have gathered in North Wollongong to plan the ETU’s campaigns and strategies for the next two years and beyond.
The new state secretary said the ETU must continue to build industrial and political power in the interests of members.
“The union is running major political campaigns in both state and federal spheres. But changing governments is just the beginning,” Page said.
“The ETU must develop ready-to-implement policies around issues such as licensing and a NSW electricity regulator.
“The union will boost its research and policy capacity to maximise these opportunities for reform.
“The NSW Branch has stabilised membership overall and achieved significant growth in construction, contracting and other sectors,” he said.
The NSW ETU now has seen a significant increase in the number of members aged under 30, another indication of the branch’s increasing strength to fight through the years ahead, Page said.