RCR’s race to the bottom puts renewable future at risk
Backpackers cutting corners, safety breaches and unlicensed work take toll
The Electrical Trades Union has seized on recent reports that solar construction company RCR Tomlinson have financial issues as further evidence that an overhaul of the State’s renewable energy sector was long overdue.
ETU QLD NT State Secretary Peter Ong said it came as no surprise to ETU members that the company was in strife.
“One of the major reasons why the RCR Solar Projects in Queensland have suffered losses is because they tried to build them with cheap, unskilled foreign labour. After relentless campaigning and safety audits from the ETU they realised that they needed licensed electricians to do the work, not backpackers on dodgy Visa’s”
Ong went further citing numerous serious safety breaches and a culture of cutting corners.
“RCR projects in Queensland have appalling safety records, this is highlighted by the number of non-compliance and infringement notices issued by the Electrical Safety Office and the Department of Workplace Health and Safety. When RCR cut costs, safety is the first thing to be sacrificed”
He also added that as with any tarnished reputation, RCR’s poor safety and race to the bottom on wages made it harder for them to recruit quality staff.
“Because of their poor safety record RCR are finding it hard to attract quality tradespeople to their projects. This is demonstrated by the high turnover of electricians on their jobs. Skilled labour isn’t cheap, cheap labour isn’t skilled. If RCR had tendered on these jobs using the actual costs for licensed electricians, they would not be in this situation now” Ong said.
The union also took aim at the State Government for its failure to adequately oversee this important industry.
“It is a damning indictment on the State Government’s inaction and incompetence that companies like RCR Tomlinson got the contracts in the first place, this isn’t some two- bit construction project which would be bad enough, this is the future of this state’s renewable energy sector, a sector that is tasked with providing a just transition from coal power to renewables. This latest private failure shows why the State Government needs to own, construct and manage our electricity generation assets” he said.
For further information contact Peter Ong 0419 721 046 or Andrew Irvine 0448 633 858