Ausgrid staff, who have endured five years of restructures that have resulted in more than 2,000 jobs being cut, feel let down by news that management is seeking to impose a wage freeze that would see them suffer cuts to their real wages during the next three years.
The United Services Union said staff at the partially privatised company, the largest electricity distributor in Australia, should be commended for their efforts to keep the lights on for millions of homes and businesses in Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Hunter through a challenging year that has seen a health crisis, bushfires, and major storm damage.
USU Energy Sector Organiser Troy Dunne said staff felt let down by a management team obsessed with cuts and restructures, at the expense of workers and power users.
“In a year where Ausgrid staff have worked tirelessly to keep the lights on despite the COVID crisis, unprecedented bushfires, and major storm events, it is beyond belief that management would seek to impose an effective wage cut on them,” Mr Dunne said.
“Our members have endured a constant state of restructure in recent years, with more than 2000 jobs cut from what is the largest and most complex electricity distribution network in the country.
“At a time when Ausgrid is cutting a further 230 roles, with hundreds more job cuts proposed to go between now and the end of 2023, it is an absolute insult to those that remain in the business to be told they don’t deserve a pay increase.
“Describing this proposal as a wage freeze fails to recognise that the cost of living continues to rise, so the entire Ausgrid workforce will actually endure a pay cut in real terms that would be locked in for at least the next three years.
“To impose this wage freeze on the very staff who have gone above and beyond this year to keep the lights on is an insult to them at a time when their efforts should be getting recognised and rewarded.
“This proposed wage freeze is yet another demonstration of the fact that the privatisation of monopoly assets, like electricity distribution companies, is a con that leaves workers and consumers worse off.
“Since privatisation, Ausgrid management’s primary objective has shifted from investing in the network and the staff responsible for its efficient operation, to distributing profits to private enterprise.
“Ausgrid staff overwhelmingly feel that they’ve been let down, yet again, by Ausgrid management.”