Powerlink allow contractor to bully workers into resigning from Union

The ETU has called on Powerlink to immediately stand down a rogue electrical contractor who has attempted to bully and intimidate employees owed $350,000 in lost wages into resigning as Union members.

New South Wales based Transmission Line Contractor NJ Constructions held meetings with individual employees in Bowen today, attempting to bully and intimidate the contractors’ 20 linesmen and trades assistants into resigning their Union Membership and signing a form denouncing the ETU’s right to act as their bargaining representative.

The meetings were held just after redundancies were announced.

ETU Queensland and NT Electricity Supply Industry Coordinator Stuart Traill said the contractor’s bullying and harassment was reprehensible, and undermined the workers’ right to freedom of association and general protections.

But Powerlink have still not suspended their contract.

“The contractor is being dragged into Fair Work next week because they have refused to negotiate with the Union, despite 100 per cent of their staff wanting Union representation on a new agreement, and this is how they respond – by trying to bully the workers out of having someone to fight for them,” he said.

“Through the disputes process Powerlink have acknowledged their employees have been underpaid at least $350,000 by NJ Constructions, and they have also acknowledged that NJ Constructions’ conduct today is unlawful.

“But because of the incompetence of Powerlink bureaucrats, Powerlink say their current contract with NJ Constructions does not allow them to suspend their contract for this unlawful behavior.

“This is a farce of Powerlink’s making that has resulted in the suffering and underpayment of these workers.”

Mr Traill said the ETU would file a breach of agreement against Powerlink in the Federal Court over their failure to comply with their obligations to the Union.

He called on Powerlink to immediately stand NJ Constructions down as a contractor pending an investigation

“Furthermore, we call on Powerlink to start employing competent administrators and to review all of their current contracts to ensure this sort of bureaucratic disaster never occurs again,” he said.

“This farce needs to end now. This exact issue caused the start of the SEQEB dispute, the biggest industrial dispute this state has ever seen.”